Archive for April, 2010

40-Day Focus Week 6: Response

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

As we head into the final days of this 40-day focus I want to recap what we’ve looked at over the last weeks, and also deal with a very important question: “How then shall we live?” Given what we’ve seen that God is doing and desiring to do, what’s our response?

God is not resting

God has something burning in His heart for His church. Something glorious far beyond what we currently understand to be normal Christianity. Something that is simultaneously the greatest glory we could ever be invited into, and an invitation that requires the making of a costly choice. God is calling forth a Bride.

The glory of that reality is that God intends to win the heart of His church. God intends to awaken us to the place where our hearts are alive and we see the beauty of who He is and what He’s done and we’re fully undone in love before Him. He intends to awaken us to the glory of who we are that we would live as a kingdom of priests before Him. That we would live as those in whom He delights, those He created for His presence, those whom He created to minister to Him. That we would live the glory of the reality that we were created to touch God. The glory of what’s coming is that God wants to invite us in to the fullness of partnership with Him. He wants to invite us into oneness with Him even as Jesus prayed in John 17 – for our hearts to be fully one with His even as He is fully one with the Father’s.

This glorious bride, burning in love, walking in full bridal partnership, heart connected with His heartbeat, soul pierced by the beauty of who He is and what He’s done, life lived in the power of Christ and of His indwelling spirit… she is the work of Christ, who gave Himself for her to present her to Himself pure and spotless, and she is the work of the Bride, who makes herself ready in love. For the sake of love, God gives us a part to play. For the sake of love He’s waiting for our hearts to respond, to say yes to what He’s invited us into. He’s waiting for the friends of the bridegroom to rise up and to call the bride to make ready. “The bridegroom is coming. Go out to meet him.” (Matthew 25:6)

Accepting God’s Proposal

There’s a condition to this invitation. God does not believe in cohabitation. We will not experience intimacy with God until we embrace being His bride. The condition of the invitation is complete abandonment – giving ourselves fully to the First Commandment, giving ourselves fully to loving the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all are mind and all our strength. The condition is withholding nothing from the God who has withheld nothing from us. When we understand that God is calling forth a bride, gratitude from a distance is no longer an appropriate response. When we see what God is inviting us to there’s only one way to respond to the invitation. We forget our people and leave behind our father’s house, for the King desires our beauty (Psalm 45:9-10).

Agreeing with God’s Agenda

In Isaiah 62, God reveals the jealous jealousy that’s burning in his heart, His vision for the end for which He will not rest – that He would take his people and cause their righteousness to shine like the dawn, and cause their salvation to go forth as a burning lamp. That He would rewrite our identity until we are called His delight, and His Bride.

He also reveals what the required response is in the human heart. What’s our part in this drama? He says in verse 6, “I have set watchmen on your walls O Jerusalem. All day and all night they shall never be silent. You who call upon the Lord, take no rest and give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.” The first response that God calls us to is to set ourselves in place upon the wall. To get where we can see what God is doing, what’s burning in His heart, and then we lay hold of that same cry (and it lays hold of us) and we give ourselves no rest and give Him no rest until it has come to pass. The first requirement is that we agree with Him in intercession – that we get ahold of the agenda of God and we begin consistently calling upon Him to bring it to pass.

Proverbs 29:18 reminds us that “without vision the people cast off restraint.” Without prophetic revelation of what God is doing we live as though God is doing nothing. He calls us to stand upon the wall to agree with what’s in His heart so that it will ever be before us that this is where we’re going and this is where God desires to take us. It’s His agenda and He won’t rest until He brings it about, but He requires that we take ownership of it – that His agenda become our agenda. He wants us standing and crying out for the things that he’s crying out for.

Entering His Courts

In verse 10, He gives a second charge: “Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a banner for the peoples.” He gives us the charge to press in through the wilderness to the courts of the Lord. To enter into His sanctuary, to set ourselves in His presence. We are to make ourselves a people of one thing, who insist upon meeting with the Lord not only on occasion, but as an ongoing reality. Like David to make our one aim to “dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of [our lives], To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4) There is a response on our part to the invitation of intimacy and of partnership – of oneness with God. There is a point where we must say yes in our hearts and match our desire with God’s, not only a yes that allows for it to happen, but a yes that makes it the very vision of our lives and the guiding principle of how we live – “One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek.” The yes in our hearts becomes a yes in our actions, our hunger translates into a change in lifestyle, and we set apart ourselves for the purpose of entering into our glorious calling to encounter God.

Building the Highway

And it’s not an individual invitation only. The call is to “prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a banner for the peoples.” This is a specific assignment for a specific group of people who are called to prepare the way of the Lord, but it’s also a general call to the people of God. God is zealous for His Church – not that a few would taste of what He has prepared for us, but that every saint, from the weakest to the strongest, would enter into the depths of what’s in His heart.

This is what I call “the No Child Left Behind” move of God. Things that only a few have entered into in generations past, depths of God’s heart that only a few saints have laid hold of, God is now inviting His entire bride to step into. And more than inviting, He is urgently beckoning. The time has come for the Bride to begin to make herself ready, and He wants no one to stay camped out in their current location and miss what He’s giving. As individuals we take that charge to press into the courts of the Lord. As a community, as the church of Christ, we must lay hold of that charge to prepare the way for the people, to build up a highway, to lift up a banner – to call and encourage and lead and exhort and strengthen each other in our pursuit of our Bridegroom.

Setting Our Sights on the Destination, Taking the First Steps

I don’t fully know what it will look like as we begin to walk in this reality, and I don’t know of anyone that does. Will our Christian walk change? Absolutely. Will our church gatherings change? Absolutely. Picture a people walking in the things that we’ve been talking about – hearts alive in love and encountering Jesus, hearts that know who they’re created to be and that know what’s in the heart of God – just try to make that people sit quietly in the pews for what we call church today; just try to make them live Americanized Christianity. It’s going to change. When and how we don’t fully know, but we do know the first steps. We make ourselves a people of one thing: we put Jesus at the center and we really give ourselves to an ongoing lifestyle of gazing on Him and interacting with His heart. As we do, it will produce a people with burning hearts, and those burning hearts will drive us through the changes.

We may not be able to see the whole journey, but we can see the first steps and we can see that He is zealous to bring us to the end. If we will say yes to the end destination, He will do the rest. If we will set our hearts on becoming the Bride made ready – fully given in love and fully experiencing His love – then He will meet us and take us there. We have only to say yes and to take the first steps – giving ourselves to the place of encountering Him. If we will make our lives about living before Him and living in Him, He will shape us and change us to make us ready.

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