NEW DAY JAX
 God's in a good mood !
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Notes

KINGDOMS IN CONFLICT

by Quentin Miller

Special Ops Equipped 

 

Perhaps the exposure capabilities of our times makes it seem so, but it feels as though there are innumerable multitudes of ministry "coaches, trainers, equippers, mentors etc.'", at our disposal.  Each one has a website, resources, and a contribute button that seem to be aimed at the same target: we can get you up and running as viable end time Christians, living the victorious life.  More or less.  Let me be clear: there is a need or there would not be a market.  I carry a personal history that makes me grateful that the body of Christ ministers to itself,  and that I can have access to life from fellow members I have never met and probably will not meet here on earth.  Ahh those sacred moments when someone deposits a slightly dog-eared book into your hands saying something like

"I read this and thought of you".   On more than one occasion I have had a total change of season due to such donations.  We all need a voice from out there, totally ignorant of and impartial to, our situation.  So, on to considering the whole idea of equipping. 

 

I hope it is obvious to you, that the arrival of the New Covenant put tools and mechanisms within our reach that are radically different than what was available prior to that time. 

This is one of the themes of the Bible: the OT prophets straining to catch a glimpse of this massive upgrade, and the NT writers explaining it.  The implied purpose of being an Equipper, would be to acquaint the saints with that which has been positioned as available to them, that was not available to prior generations.  I am a believer in the ever-increasing revelation of God's purposes on earth.  I don't believe we are in the same state of understanding as those generations of Augustine, Luther, or Moody.  No, there is a progressive unfolding of God's hand.  So, the ministry of being an Equipper, can certainly be of great value.  Just as your computer needs those updates that want to pull you away from Solitaire, as the church we NEED the updates. 

 

That said, let’s fly over some ground taken, which for large parts of Christianity is familiar terrain.  Most obviously there are the gifts of the Spirit.  We have lists of, and references to them all through the NT.  Paul even told the Corinthians that they were at the top of the league in regards to this equipping.  I remember the Holy thrill of discovering these gifts that was only exceeded by the hunger to experience every one of them in my life.  I read everything I could get my hands on concerning them. 

I also recall the defining moment when I was made aware that there were also gifts of ministry given to the church.  Again, there are lists and references in the NT mostly from the hand of Paul.  This revelation also dove-tailed into a whole new season of discovery in my personal journey. 

 

These discoveries ushered change into much of my life and the lives of those close to me.

Many areas were forever transformed.   Perspectives and influences that had never been close to the front office, suddenly occupied prominent positions on the board of directors.   However, I must also say that there were tracts of my personal wilderness that were never touched, despite the far-reaching promises.  Certainly, a healthy portion of that failure can be my coming up short in application, but, there is also a part that possibly would involve a heroic stretch for our generation, that won't be quite so for the next. 

 

Okay, enough musings.  I want to put on the table a piece of this puzzle that God has been stirring into my mix.  I believe it is a tool made available to us ONLY through the New Covenant, but is largely left in the bottom of the toolbox.  It is mostly handled only when it is blocking access to another tool.  But, it doesn't do a whole lot of good to acquaint oneself with a tool, without the understanding of the need it was meant to fill.  So here goes:

 

Mat 11:12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

Okay, there's the need.  Jesus was giving us info in the form of a lament.  This was not counsel to get off your spiritual posterior and gain ground, even though I have preached that in time past.   While I live by pressing for MORE, and hang with the same....I just don't think that's what Jesus was addressing here.  In fact, he just got done telling us that  basically no one amongst the entire cast of the OT prophets could rival John

because he was more than prophet...he was also fulfillment.   This was not Jesus trying to get everyone to feel good about the imprisoned John.  This was Jesus endorsing John as the best of the best until that very moment...but, still not touching the glaring need he was attempting to unveil, and had come to earth to eradicate.  My paraphrase: "People we have had a problem all through earth's history; this most significant happening until now in that history is the coming of John....but even from the start of his cutting edge days until now, the problem is still untouched.  Violence!"  IE, the problem addressed here isn't just something that popped up during John's ministry...its something so far reaching  that it continues even in HIS tour of duty.  The screaming need of mankind is the almost unquestioned lifestyle of violence.  It is so pervasive that even the God chasers employ it in their pursuit of heaven.  It is the go-to knee jerk reaction for problem "solving".  But this problem "solution" also perpetuates the very problem itself.  "those who live by the sword , will die by the sword."  So much for creating a safe world through violence.  A brief window of cooling gun barrels maybe,  but a safe world?  Jesus said its impossible  Mat_26:52  Then Jesus *said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

 

Whose Dictionary?..

The music in the bar is piano jazz...soft, easy.  He spots her at the bar alone, swirling her glass of wine.  The conversation is a spontaneous back and forth of quips, and clever playful blindsides that would take an average person weeks to come up with.  Next scene they are tearing each other’s clothes off at her/his place and they are making love.   Love????  We all know whats happening here, but we also know it’s not 'love' unless your dictionary has about 150 words max.  The word has been totally hi-jacked and gravely misapplied. 

And yet it gains wide acceptance...majority type wide.  It doesn't take much for words on earth to get sequestered for other purposes.  Heaven has a more stable enduring dictionary.  In that dictionary "love" looks like a cross instead of a craving.  My point:

the definition of "violence" is very different in the celestial edition.  Here on earth, we tend to measure it in quarts of blood.  While the quart-laden events would legitimately fall in the category of violence, the entirety of the species is much much larger.  What we tend to label as violence, leaves out trunk, root, branch, and leaf while focusing solely on fruit and flower.  Heaven sees it differently.  Even though the church probably has as much blood on her sword as any political entity in history, this would only be a fraction of the focus of Jesus.  Let’s expand the topic of the "problem" a little more, and then approach the solution Jesus brought to earth in his carry on. 

 

Jas 4:1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?

James uses words that include the major campaign scenario as well as individual spats.  World wars to yelling matches all have roots in the same bog. 

Jas 4:2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.

Envy!  What would be the opposite to this insidious instigator?  Thanksgiving.  Impossible for envy and thanksgiving to occupy the same heart at the same time.  Violence is envy on the move.  A spy is not a spy the day he is caught.  Violence is not violent the day it shows up in an act.  A spy carries himself as a peaceful, normal citizen 99.9% of the time.  But the .1% defines his true identity.  Violence can wear a dapper three piece suit, carry a briefcase, and be a member of several service clubs; be elected to office, have a wall full of commendations and shake the president's hand. 

Pro 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Self-focus creates problems.  Self-focus doesn't take long to conjure up envy...

Jas 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

Jas 1:15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

Carried away from what?   Thanksgiving.  The commentators say the Greek here speaks of a fish being lured from its safe place and then going for the bait.  Ultimately the only decision after that is blackened or grilled, right? 

We will return to this, but note that James DID give us an alternative to envy on the move: ask.  So, its move and obtain, or ask and receive.  I believe heaven's dictionary would include something akin to getting without asking when defining violence. 

The problem with gain by violence is you rip yourself off.  Look at God's offer:

Rom 5:17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Ahh!  Reigning in life!  Knowing how and always doing life well.  Sounds good.  How is this marvel accomplished?  RECEIVING the abundance of grace and gift of righteousness.  It’s hard to conceive of violent receivers (NFL excluded). 

How can we arrive at this haven?  Back to Matthew 11. 

 

Backtracking on the Breadcrumb Trail...

A breadcrumb trail is the nomenclature for that little string of pages you were on before you got to the web page you were seeking.  Its usually somewhere near the top of your page.  I did one recently in search of a pair of jeans; it looked like this: 

Landsend>sale>men>pants>jeans.    I see Mt 11 like a breadcrumb trail.  So...

Let’s start and retrace our steps with  Mat 11:25  At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.

Mat 11:26  "Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.

Jesus had been speaking to the people, when suddenly he is overwhelmed with joy to where he has to turns to Father so they can giggle together.   Its kind of a "I just love this part, don't you?" moment.  Its all about a secret the two of them are sharing.  Its in plain sight, but most don't catch it.   In fact, the most 'qualified' seem to be missing it the most, while kids pick up on it right away.   So what is it? 

V 21-24 (a step back on the trail) has Jesus lamenting over two towns where he had done some awesome miracles.  He says "if I had done what I did in front of your eyes, over there in gentile land, they would be hanging on my every word right now, following me anywhere I went, doing whatever I asked.  You guys aren't even raising your eyebrows. 

Here we enter the subject at hand which is Repentance. 

I would like us to see that the coming of the New Covenant not only brought better promises, better gifts, better ministries, but put within our reach a better repentance.

In fact, I believe this is the core of New Covenant life and provision. 

 

Repentance

It is interesting that several commentators agree that the single word most poorly translated in the New Testament from the Greek,  is the word for repentance. 

Here are some excerpts:   Sorrow is not, as is popularly conceived, the primary nor the prominent notion of the word.

the word may be derived from μετα after, and ανοια, madness, which intimates that the whole life of a sinner is no other than a continued course of madness and folly: and if to live in a constant opposition to all the dictates of true wisdom;

It was from this notion of the word, that the Latins termed repentance resipiscentia, a growing wise again, from re and sapere

But, I think there is more than just a re-thinking of things, though that is included in the core of this act.  The re-thinking must lead to a re-evaluation of every aspect of life.  It’s comparable to a shop owner who has such an epiphany over his business, that the next day he goes and changes all of the price stickers on his whole inventory.  Some things that were very spendy are suddenly dirt cheap, while others that were at giveaway prices, become highly prized items.  The whole economy of the store has changed.   This is what New Testament repentance does for us.  We turn away from the 'madness' of our former value system to embrace the sanity of wisdom. 

  With this in mind we reconsider what Jesus said to his listeners concerning the cities that would not repent.  He said "I did GREAT miracles in your presence, in front of your eyes, and it did not bring the result I longed for: repentance.  Miracles and power were a means to open the door of opportunity for repentance.  The lesser holds the door open for the greater.  Jesus says in effect:  "I put on a fireworks display like never before seen on earth, and you didn't even give me an  Ahhhh!"  You didn't really change one price tag. 

In Mt 11.16-19 he portrays in parable form the frustration he feels about not seeing the repentance that was due.  He says "John came in a quality of discipline and self-sacrifice that should have been awe inspiring.  No deal.  So, I came in the power of sheer joy and freedom inviting you to celebrate.  No deal."   So whats the end result of no repentance??

Men will keep pursuing God and His kingdom with the means and tools of the Old Covenant.  If you don't embrace the new, you're stuck with the old...even though it most clearly will not get the job done. 

Rom 8:7  because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

Rom 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Where the word 'flesh' is used here, it is referring to the attempts of man to be righteous through his own efforts.   Its man doing the best job he could, with the tools that WERE available prior to the Holy Spirit bringing the new tools.  But it is now IMPOSSIBLE to please God with that approach.  Not improbable, not "really difficult"....and this 'pleasing Him' endeavor is not graded on the curve.  (see James 4.4 and 1Cor 2.14)

 

The Jesus Way

So if nothing that was in the toolbox can really get the job done in the way that Father wants it done.....where does that leave us?  It leaves with a need for a price changing repentance which...relax....is actually a gift.  Don't try to find something in the old toolbox to open the new!!

Act_5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Act_11:18  When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

2Tim._2:25  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

Now that Father has made available a gift that can plug me into His great pleasure...and a very personally costly gift to Him...can you see the offense of a --self-willed, stubborn, hell bent, won't mourn/won't dance, I did it my way-- person that makes me?  This is violent.

Again here in the one verse is the beauty of the new: Rom 5:17....much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

The Jesus Way is through His great gift and the abundance of his empowering.  All else is comparative violence.  YOU WON'T FIND IT IN HEAVEN!  Repentance is my surrender to His ‘non-violent' way.

  Look again at the end of the breadcrumb trail that we back tracked through.  Remember Jesus is celebrating some wonderful insider knowledge with Father.  That knowledge is hidden from the professional God chasers.  What's the secret?

Mat 11:27(a) All things are delivered unto me of my Father:  

Jesus is not out there 'grabbing' the promises of God.  He waits quietly, expectantly for the Father's UPS truck to pull up...he's poised to receive.  Phil. 2:5 The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.

He goes on to give a picture of his non-force way of doing life.  The Message lays it out so beautifully:   Mat 11:28 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest.

Mat 11:29 Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.

Mat 11:30 Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

There is a gift and depth of surrender, made available ONLY by the Holy Spirit, that is now offered to you and I, that was not offered to the God people in times past.  The coming of the Holy Spirit introduced access to a whole new connection.  It is often said that it is sad to see a people with a better covenant moving in inferior power.  True that.

However, sadder yet, a people with a better covenant moving in inferior surrender. 

  Across the spectrum of the Christian faith,  the element of worship takes on untold variations.  Some well-tuned and polished, others raw and spontaneous.  However, the one quality that must be present is surrender.  If that is removed, what’s left is violent, because it has another agenda that does not exist in heaven.  Think I am stretching the violence thing too far?  There are only two addresses available for you and me:   #1:

Jas 3:17  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

#2  Jas 3:15  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.

Jas 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

 

The Inferior Surrender

Jacob is one of the heroes of the Old.  He did well with what was made available to him.

However, from a New standpoint, his life was one long series of wrestling matches.  He was going at it with his brother in the womb.  However, the crowning match of his career was with a much more formidable opponent.  He thought this match was with his brother as well, but he was in for a shock.  In Genesis 32 he has just escaped the strangle hold of his father in law.  He is headed home after 20 years of expatriation.  The feeling of the account as it begins, is one of cautious optimism.  He and Esau have a history and it’s not good.  But...they are big boys now, a lot of water under the bridge, and surely these things can be smoothed out between two successful men.  Besides, Jacob has just had an angel encounter at a camp meeting (Mahanaim) that has his confidence soaring.  The promises of God are all over him.  In that confidence he sends a polite, slightly flattering (well groomed violence) FYI to Esau about his return.  When the messengers return they bring the news that Esau is coming to meet him and he's not alone.  He has 400 men with him. 

So the man who vowed to kill him 20 years prior, is suddenly on the doorstep with 400 armed friends.  Jacob lost confidence, angels or no.   He reaches in the toolbox and pulls out the first scheme he can lay hands on, the Crisis Management tool; minimize the losses:  divide into two groups so that one might escape while the other....

This is not really a great tool for the situation, so Jacob digs into the box again and pulls out the God tool.  "Heavenly Father: I beseech Thee that.....and I declare the promise You gave me etc"  This was the best God tool he had at the moment, but it didn't really work and did zip to restore the confidence that had abandoned him so rudely.

He reaches into the box again and pulls out the Bribery tool.  He begins sending gifts ahead to appease his brother.  Wonderful gifts clothed in beautiful words.   The man is close to desperation and is emptying the ship of that which he had labored so hard for so long to obtain.  He is having to bribe his brother with what he had just made secure from his father in law. 

  In the middle of this desperate night, he does one more ploy of sending all of the women and children ahead.   If this was the ultimate Survivor tool, or what, I don't know...but he was definitely squirming.  He is now alone.  What ensues could be the first prototype of choreographed Wrestling.  It was obviously a rigged match.  You have to now agree with me that this is violence.  We are given to understand that it is a long match of the stalemate variety.  God is just barely holding His own?  Rigged!  In desperation the Almighty has to resort to dirty wrastlin' and puts Jacobs hip out of joint.  Still Jacob holds on and the account makes it sound as though he at least got a tie.  I guess the Creator was a little out of shape.  So much for the sedentary lifestyle.  Jacob comes away limping but with a new name: Prince because he prevailed with God and man.  He goes on to meet his brother and all is well. 

How many sermons have been laid on good Christian folk using this to encourage us to wrestle with God and not let go until I get the blessing.  "the kingdom of heaven suffers violence". 

Jacob had an inferior covenant and therefore had an inferior surrender.  His surrender was only enough for God to wound him and slow down his self-destruct nature from a dash to a limp.  If you fight God and win....you lost.  New definition: Loser: he who fights God and wins (Sinatra…I did it my way). 

This account is not a model for us.  Yes he comes away a prince and father of a nation but its primarily an illustration of the best man can do without the Holy Spirit.  He didn't get transformed, he got hindered.  It was the best available at the time, but it’s so NOT kingdom.  The Jews turned his maiming into something holy and wouldn't eat that part of the hip muscle.  But that’s what you do when the best you can say is: "yes I know God, He maimed me".  Truth be told, knowing God the Maimer is still better than not knowing Him at all.  Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

Sadly, many Christians 'brag' on how God has maimed them in one way or another.  Its all OLD TOOLBOX. 

 

Home Improvement

Peter was the follower God used to open up the new toolbox.  Paul was the follower  who showed how to use the tools.  Unprecedented surrender brings undreamed of fruit. 

Let’s see Paul in action.  Acts 16.

I love the 'carefulness' with which Paul enters Philippi.  After having the Holy Spirit slam several doors in their faces, the evangelistic team is walking cautiously.  They are not running for a new strategy, or the latest ploy.  They are as blind men feeling their way down a corridor.  At last a dream or vision  is given and they sense that they have come upon the trail of the Holy Spirit that is still warm.  They don't have 2000 years of missions archives to pour through to see how to do this.  There are no demographic studies to direct their efforts.  What they really have working for them is a very tender carefulness for the next clue from the Holy Spirit.  Instead of the "do something!" methodology so popular in our age, there is instead a quiet dependence.  They are not bolstered by the false confidence of ‘been there/done that' ministry.  When they DO get something from the Spirit, they are on it with diligence and all in.  They arrive at Philippi and basically sit tight until the Sabbath day.  Their settled upon approach was to seek out the Jews and proselytes first.  They weren't blitzing the streets but realized they carried pearls not to be thrown just anywhere.  When the Sabbath came, they went to where they probably had heard there might be a prayer group.  Jesus directed His disciples to 'inquire as to who was worthy' (Mt 10.11) in a town they entered for the first time, likewise Paul and his fellows seem to be following this manner of approach.  They are not the least hesitant or reluctant, rather there is the steady momentum of utter conviction.  However, there is also the carefulness and patience to allow the Spirit to do as He wishes.  At last their 'worthy' person is found: Lydia.  We don't know how many women were there at this gathering, but it appears that God opened only her heart.  She got it!  So much so, that she insisted that Paul and his guys set up camp in her house.  What great price an open heart! 

It might not have seemed like a glorious testimony to email back home.  One open heart.

But this woman was the gateway to Europe and the beginning of the church that would be Paul's go-to people in any crunch.  How easy to err, when we take in hand the liberty to appraise the quality of our labor for the Lord by anything but open hearts. 

What follows is a curious account of unrequested publicity.  Most evangelists of our day would see this free publicity as a God send.  This is a poignant event to show us that it is not the Message...it’s the Voice.  "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."

Couldn't get the message much clearer than that.  Wasn't this the purpose of the whole trip?  Isn't this the very thing they came to say?  They should have been giving her a commission right?  Wrong Voice!  And, therefore Wrong Heart.  Paul knew that the right message coming from the wrong heart would ultimately be disaster.  Even then, Paul does not jump to the task.  'After many days' of this he takes action.  The Spirit of God moves and suddenly they are on a ride that is out of control speeding toward a washed out bridge.

The ex-spirit guide probably felt pretty good about this event now that she was free, but her controllers saw it in a different light.  Within a short time Paul and Silas are man- handled into court, roughed up, racially discriminated, falsely accused, publicly scourged, defamed, thrown into maximum security, and chained in darkness. 

No phone call.   

Forgive me for taking the long way to get us here, but now we are back on target.  Here is where the miracle takes place.  Here is where the power of the New Covenant is so dynamically displayed.  Here is one of the clearest examples of Repentant living we could gaze upon.  Jacob would have been calling his lawyer,  praying (of course) and reminding God of His promises, trying to bribe the Jailor, and attempting to get word to Rachel to smuggle in a file during visiting hours.  Paul saw this as nothing more than a marvelous setup for Abundant Grace which he knew always caused them to reign in life.  His price tags were just all messed up. 

Jesus also had serious pricing issues:

Mat 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Paul and Silas had no tricks, no pull, no scheme.  They were bankrupt and joyfully called out for Grace.  Grace showed up.   How do we know?  >>>

1. They held sway over the other prisoners such that no one bolted, 2. they led their Jailor out of his personal darkness and captivity after  3. he fell at their feet,  4. they did not just accept the get out of jail card, but demanded that the errant authorities come and personally apologize, 5. they left town when they were ready.    What would we term this when they are calling all the shots?

Thats reigning in life.  This is the power of the gift of repentance...the power of surrender that only the Holy Spirit can work...this is Worship in its true sense. 

  This is the great secret Jesus and his Dad were giggling about together back in Mt 11.

The yoke that’s not hard; the burden that’s not heavy.  Retiring forever from the violent lifestyle of making my own way on earth or in heaven.  Becoming a receiver and reigner.

Grasp and groan ...  or Receive and Reign.  If you decide to enter into this Rest...get ready for 'stuff' happening.  Look at what the all-pro Receiver said: 1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

This is the power of the New Covenant. 

The Meal That Heals

COMMUNION...by Quentin Miller

A Brief Personal History:

Until recently the traditional act of taking communion has been a fuzzy theme for me, both theologically and in practice. OBVIOUSLY, Jesus put great emphasis upon it (if for no other reason, in that it is included in all four gospels) and therefore it is not something to be summarily dismissed with a golf clap or a hat tip. But every occasion of participating in the supper, left me with the awkward sense that I wasn't getting it. I would try to work up a sense of weightiness that would correspond to the apparent importance that SHOULD be associated with the act.

Much of this came from having been under teaching that interpreted Paul's instructions from 1Cor 11. This kind of teaching compelled me to dig deep within for any hidden fault, sin, or blemish that would endanger me of making a mockery of Jesus' sacrifice. I seemed to have a never ending supply. Then I was caught in the public image trap: if I didn't partake, the saints would have room to surmise. The result was I usually did my best to feel repentant, and gambled on qualifying for the mercy of Jesus more than on the benefit of the doubt from the disciples.

Around the year 2000 I began to rediscover the goodness of God. It was one night in Salta Argentina, after having been asked to lead in a communion service the following day, that the following thought process began to occur to me: if God is good, then this idea of 'celebrating' communion must be a really good thing. That started the search. From there I realized the emphasis was much more on the blazing daybreak of the New Covenant. Celebration suddenly became feasible. Recently through a book by AA Allen and a line from Joseph Prince, the picture has become very exciting to me. So here we go.

The Old Testament Shadow

Ex 12 gives us the instructions for the first Passover. The theme is the pronounced value of the blood and body of the lamb. So much so, that God decided to start marking time from this first great 'communion'.

7And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. (thought: I see in my own history, many times where God pointed out parts of the lamb I was not eating and was therefore in danger of losing the privilege of enjoying that part of Christ. They were usually lamb cuts that certain groups deemed as not existing)

The blood is an obvious signpost to the blood of Jesus' sacrifice. Just as the Israelites escaped the judgment upon the firstborn of Egypt, so we escape the judgment of the firstborn Adam. NOTE: in Egypt there was only two places to be: in the house under the blood, or outside under judgment. So, it is with us in the New Covenant age: in Christ under the blood or still under the judgment of this world. No middle ground. Jn 3.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Eph1.7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,

What about the body?: The body was given as a provision for the journey. Deut 8.4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years Ps 105.37 He also brought them out with silver and gold, And there was none feeble among His tribes.

Can you imagine 2 million people on a 40 year camping trip and no one gets sick? The roast lamb was really a meal to remember. NOTE AGAIN Drawing a circle around the house with the blood, or doing the window frames would not have procured the exemption from death angel. Likewise eating the lamb boiled or in the crock pot would not have pulled down the 40 year health plan. There was a right way and there was a wrong way.
Before we leave the shadow picture, we need to understand one more thing: the offerings that God gave the children of Israel for their spiritual needs, usually involved the slaying of an animal. With most of those sacrifices, the Lord received a portion through the fire, the priest was given a portion to support the ministry, and the worshiper likewise received a portion to take home and eat in a celebratory fashion with his family and household. The offering and the business conducted at the altar was not really complete until they ATE the meal. The eating of the sacrifice tied the offerer across the time and distance that had expired(though neither was usually great in their day), to the moment of contact on the altar. Our celebration likewise ties us inseparably to the altar of the cross and all that was accomplished there. 1Cor 10.18
Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

The Lamb Speaks

Being heralded by John as THE Lamb that would be offered, left no one in doubt as to what he referred. See what the Lamb himself declares: Jn 6.50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven.

To appreciate the impact this declaration had on the hearers, we must try to erase from our minds all the input we have had about eating a bland dissoluble wafer that is somehow related to the plywood family, and chugging a shot glass sized portion of grape juice.

We read this portion and naturally think "communion". This audience had no memory base to make that leap. All they knew was the strict prohibitions about drinking blood and somehow this fellow was trying to link his flesh to the 'what is it' manna of their history. I think their line of questioning was perfectly logical, though blind.

When my five children were still under the one roof, I would go out five or six days a week and trade my life for money. My wife would take that money and trade if for food.

That food gave life to my children. They 'ate my life and lived off of me'. Now they are all gone and there is no one to eat my time except my wife and I...ergo I have a harder time seeing my belt.

His audience was surely keyed to his allegorical rhetoric, but this was over the top.

Discerning the Body..

What kind of body was this that was given to the world? A VERY special body:

Heb 10.5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.

It was set aside (sanctified) for a time and a purpose. Clark Kent had a 'body' he would slip into at very special moments for crucial purposes. Heaven held a body for a 'crucial' moment. Look at these few of many scriptures that relate the wonders of this prepared body:

Mt 8.2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Mar 6.56 Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.

Mar 7.33 And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha ,” that is, “Be opened.” Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.

Mt 14.35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

Lk 6.19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

No wonder the joyful declaration of John: 1Jn 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life--

We have no record of that body ever getting sick; nor is there any reference that infers that those who walked with that body ever suffered any infirmity (with the slight exceptions of a reoccurring yellow streak down some of their backs). There is no way to prove this concept, but it wouldn't have taken any convincing to get me to "bump" into that body at the first sign of a runny nose. This was their Walgreens.

Yes, but...

What about us? We are separated by 2000 years and 4500 miles from that body. How unfair is that? Enter the celebration:

Lk 22.5 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

Mar 14.22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.

1Cor 10.16 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?

I have never been able to get by the statement of Jesus: "fervent desire". I always think along these lines: if I knew what was coming down the pipe (as he did) in just a few hours....eating would be way down on my list. The brutality and torture that awaited him would have taken away all my appetite, leaving me with nothing but the shakes. And yet there is this smoldering excitement that we sense in him about this meal. What did he know that so trumped the soon coming horrors? At this juncture, let us note that this is obviously that to which he referred in the confusing Jn 6 dialogue (see above).

The Fifth Gospel..

The church grabbed on to this meal in a big way. Acts 2.42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The word "steadfastly" means it was something they pursued proactively. The phrase
"breaking of bread" does not refer to their normal meals, rather communion. How many of us need to proactively pursue our daily three as if it were something that could easily slip from our attention and we would go days or weeks before correcting our negligence?

No, it is fairly certain that the church met together specifically to take communion. It is supposed that the custom grew up, whereby they also partook of their evening meal together in what became known as the love feast. So, typically they would come together and enjoy their dinner, and then with one accord address the central purpose of their gathering: communion.

Enter Paul. 1Cor 11 is the Bill of Rights on the subject of communion. And as is the case with our political Bill of Rights, so it goes with this spiritual writ. Portions are yanked and stretched to accommodate bias and vested interests.

1Cor 11.20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. I say the following knowing that one day I will meet this fellow and hope I am not putting words in his mouth! Paul was registering his complaint/observation with this statement. He was saying "You have lost your central purpose of coming together: communion. We could paraphrase: "Your problem is that you have let slip your purpose for coming together in one place, which is the bread and the wine." Not only that, but they were messing up the secondary purpose of the love feast with their selfishness and clique-oriented groupings. This is seen with his scolding in v. 21,22.

Then, while their ears are still scorched, he deals the blow to the Pinata that sends goodies flying everywhere: 1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all gave us accounts of that which they observed in the

upper room that evening. Paul gives the account of the fifth gospel: he tells us how Jesus saw it. This is definitively apostolic: an intimate message from the Lord Himself for His church. Paul gives us a powerful, yet humble declaration of his identity.

So, what did Jesus tell Paul to explain to the church?

"...that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;

1Co 11:24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

1Co 11:25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

We are at the core of the wonder of communion with these verses. The timing is CRITICAL. This is the same night of his betrayal into the hands of death. It had to be like this. The first thing he does is pick up bread and begins to declare thanks or literally, Grace over it. This is the Creator declaring. Things change when the Creator speaks; worlds are created, universes hung, seas roar, and a few loaves feed thousands on more than one occasion. Likewise something transformational is happening with the declaration of grace over this bread. Paraphrase: "you know this prepared body that you have been hanging around for three plus years? The one that heals everyone who touches it? Well, I am doing a major transfer of funds to your accounts. It's now yours. I have something else to do. I am imparting to this bread, the power of this body, and giving it to you." How did he do that? I have no more idea than how he made a coin appear in a fish mouth. Did the chemicals and elements already present in the fish suddenly convene in his mouth to form a coin? or, did the fish just suck up a stray piece of currency from the bottom of the pond? I don't think it matters. By faith I take hold of the bread that is now packed with the power of the body. He does the same thing with the wine and miraculously invests the power of the new covenant into that cup. Remember: this is a new thing; they had no idea this was coming. They might not have even remembered the statements of John 6 right away.

Something else that is highly strategic has happened slightly prior to this impartional miracle. Judas has left the fold to do the deal. Rather, satan dressed in the body of Judas has just made the exit. And he is happy...satan, that is. For the last three and half years this body has been destroying centuries of developed infrastructure. Wherever that body goes, works of his doing are obliterated. Frequently in times past after this one had destroyed carefully laid works, he had time and again slipped through the satan-empowered religious fingers. At last the evil one has him cornered in a back alley, and even more, has a compromised man in the inner circle to help assure the success of the snare.

Jesus confronts the treason, Judas leaves, and with the mole gone, it is now time to complete the Transaction of the Ages. Satan is busy with his dark little schemes in the halls of religion and does not realize that what he is really after, the body, is being hidden in others in the form of bread, once again slipping through his fingers. God's hand is SO much quicker than satan's eye. If this had not been enough: not only is satan NOT getting what he was after, the Divine One will actually now use the perp to help accomplish another astounding part of His plan. Satan does not know it, but he is actually apprehending the "Lamb the Sin-bearer" formerly... the Bread of Life. He is blind to the fact that God is actually using him to dig the hole to forever bury the sin of all mankind. Along with that goes the Law, failure, and all condemnation. Satan is working himself out of a job without knowing it.

The Invisible Miserable Congregation

This delicious table reversal, role change and hand off, were God's intent from the inception.

Eph 3.10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

The woes and tears of humanity came through the meal of one man. The grace of victory and reigning also come through a man's meal. The same humanity that satan tortured and harassed for centuries, will now be the 'weapon of choice' in the destruction of everything he has contrived. And he is COMPELLED to watch it happen. Psa 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil....

Satan and every one of his cohorts are constrained to sit at the foot of the table and watch as we eat that meal prepared for us! The anointing is that of a ruler.

1Cor 11.26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes

The word to 'proclaim' means to preach. What happens when the word of God is preached? Things change. 1Pe 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

Every time I take communion, life is being preached. Things change and shift in the unseen realm. Devils are forced to hear the preaching of life; it is the smell of life to us and the smell of death to them. Lets raise up a roar of preaching! May they go deaf.

This is truly something to be done OFTEN, with intent and celebration.

It's not a Who, it's a How

1Co 11:27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.

The only hope the devil had after he finally discovered what he helped to unleash in the earth, was to do his best to confuse and distort beyond recognition what Paul was teaching.

If we look in the rear view mirror to Exodus for one more check, we see that it was the LAMB that got examined, not the one who offered the lamb. His mere being there, was an admission for the need of the lamb. This verse is speaking of the manner in which we approach the table. The issue is that I approach this communion in perfect alignment with the purpose for which it was given.

Pro 11:22 As a ring of gold in a swine's snout So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.

My sister is an expert jeweler and an artist as well. She creates some beautiful pieces. My wife wears some of her original work on her finger. What if we were to take that exquisite ring and use it to ring a pig's snout. We would sometimes place rings in pigs noses to keep them from rooting around where they had no business. We didn't use diamond rings; it would have been a thing of beauty being used in an unworthy manner(not to mention the wrath of my sister to see her talent and effort used in such and unworthy way). It is necessary to understand the value in order to treat it in a manner worthy of the same. I believe this is what Paul was teaching the Corinthians, especially in light of their apparent foggy grasp on things. Remember: there are only two places to be...in the house under the blood, or outside under judgment. The Greek says that if you partake with an improper sense of the value, you make yourself liable for it. If an Israelite did not use the Passover lamb in the prescribed way, he made HIMSELF liable for it.

1Co 11:28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

In light of this, we are to MAKE SURE that our participation is with the right understanding of value and purpose. Only you can answer that.

1Co 11:29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.

Don't join up with those in ignorance outside under the shadow of the death angel. What would happen if we failed to lay hands on this costly costly provision? What would the cost be of not paying full attention to the prescription of God? 1Co 11:30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

1Co 11:31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.

1Co 11:32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

In light of the stakes, the mercy of God takes the form of anything that will get me to check my engine light and oil level. His desire is singular: that we would not suffer the lifestyle of those who have chosen to spend their short vapor in the darkness. If you have a lamb in your yard, you don't belong in the dark.

Conclusion..

I now take communion on a daily basis. I believe it is God's loving provision for my health on the journey. I fully expect supernatural health. Every time I hold the bread and the cup, I am sensing the Presence of Jesus. As often as I want!

A Testimony

A friend of ours named Pam, went to the doctor for a regular checkup. The nurse came out sometime later with the news that there was the signs of a serious blood disease. They wanted her to come back in a month for further testing and to form a strategy for combating this infirmity. She went home and began to seek the Lord. At last she made a decision: "Lord you have great blood, so I am going to drink your blood every day for this month." And so for that month she took communion every day. When she returned after thirty days, the medical staff did some more blood work. A while later the nurse came out with a startled look on her face. Here is what she said: "You have the most beautiful blood I have ever seen. Not only are there no signs of the disease, but you have the blood of a child!". Case Closed!!



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