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Continuing on in Christ

Landscape near the village of Kera (Crete, Greece)

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If we are to mature in the Lord, there are three stages that we must go through. These three are the same ones that Israel went through. Each of these stages is a recognition of an aspect of Christ and an experience of Him in a new way. Each step is necessary for us to grow into the New Man. Also, each step is taken by faith, just as Israel did in its journey.

 

Christ as Our Slain Lamb

Christ as our Slain Lamb is our initial step. When we recognize that He is the Lamb slain for the sins of the world, we put our faith in Him. This is the means by which we enter into Christ. Since, we have entered into Christ by faith, we are also included in His death and resurrection. Too many have seen this simply as an objective truth, but it must be a subjective experience if we are to be transformed into the Image of God through Christ. We can only experience it if, by faith, we take His death and resurrection as our own.

 

Christ as Our Manna and Living Water

Once we have this new life in Christ, we must learn to eat and drink of Christ. If we do not eat and drink Him, we cannot grow in Him. A dear brother in Christ, Michael has written a great blog on eating Christ here: Spiritual Starvation and the Manna that’s Already There. I highly suggest reading it. We don’t literally eat and drink Christ, since God is Spirit, we must eat and drink Him spiritually. First, we must recognize that our food and drink is not the true food and drink. Christ is the reality of these things. Then, we eat and drink Him by faith. We must learn how to do this through our constant communion with Him. This is how we grow in Christ. As we eat and drink Him, His Life is dispensed into us and He saturates us, nourishes us, and is our pleasure.

 

Christ as Our Promised Land

Christ as our Lamb, our Food, and our Drink are just partial pictures of Christ. There is no picture in the Old Testament that is as complete a picture of Christ as the Promised Land. As we are growing in Christ by eating and drinking Him, we must recognize that He is our Promised Land, God’s provision for our every need. He is the air we breathe, our milk and honey, the very land we walk on, and even our hills and valleys. He is everything to us. In Him, we live and move and have our being. Whatever we need, we already have it in Christ.

 

Just as each tribe of Israel was given a portion of Christ, so we have been given portions of Christ. We have the stewardship of the mystery of Christ, which is God in us. As stewards, we share our portions of Christ with each other, dispensing His Life into each other through the Spirit. Through this dispensing, the Body is being built up into the fullness of Christ, until we are His express Image.

 

Lastly, just as Israel had an enemy in the Promised Land, so we have an enemy that wishes to keep God from attaining His eternal desire. Since, we each have a portion of Christ, together we must put on the Armor of God, which is Christ Himself. When I lack faith, a brother or sister in Christ, will have faith to give me. When someone feels unrighteous, I can remind them that Christ is our Righteousness. The war must be fought in the Body, for the Armor of God goes on the New Man, who is the corporate Christ.

 

Having died and been resurrected with Christ, then eating and drinking our Lord, let us press on to the Promised Land, where Christ is all and in all.

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Are Your Windows Open Towards New Jerusalem?

Girl reading a Letter at an Open Window (fragment)

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[10] Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. – [Dan 6:10 NASB]


Daniel had his windows open toward Jerusalem, because the return to Jerusalem was God’s desire for His People in exile. This is why God kept Daniel alive in the lion’s den: So that Daniel could continue praying according to God’s will. Daniel was faithful in praying for God’s eternal purpose, in as much as he understood it.

Man’s prayer is just to pave the way for God’s move to go on. – Witness Lee

[2] And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. – [Rev 21:2 NASB]

At the end of Revelation, the ultimate desire of God is revealed: New Jerusalem. This isn’t a physical city but a spiritual city. It is the mingling of God and man. I am not saying to open your window when you pray, but that God’s desire for this Great City should always guide your prayers. God is waiting for His People to join with Him through prayer. He will delay the accomplishment of His will until His People pray. He has revealed to us His desire for the Bride City so that we may prayer for it to be prepared.

Ephesians 1

1. This letter is from Paul, one sent by Christ Jesus, by the desire of God, to the ones in Ephesus, set apart and faithful in Christ Jesus. 2. Favor to you and rest from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Worthy of praise is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every kind of spiritual gift in the heavenly places, 4. inasmuch as He chose us in Himself before the foundation of the universe to be set apart and without blemish before His face. In love, 5. He marked us out beforehand to sonship for Himself, on account of Jesus Christ, according to His desire. 6. He did this for the praise of the glory of His favor, which He bestowed freely on us by the Loved One. 7. In Him, we have redemption because of His blood and complete forgiveness of sins, according to the wealth of His favor. 8. He superabounded this favor to us in all wisdom and understanding, 9. having made known to us the mystery of His desire, according to His good pleasure. He purposed this in Himself 10. for the stewardship of the fullness of the times to sum up all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on earth 11. in Himself.

In Him we have received a share, having been marked out beforehand according to the predetermination of Him, who works everything according to His deliberate wisdom, 12. so that we who have first hoped in Christ are to the praise of His glory. 13. In Him, you also having heard the message of truth, the good news of your salvation, in whom also having put your faith, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise. 14. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee of our inheritance, for the redemption of the full possession, for the praise of His glory.

15. On account of this, having heard of the faithfulness among you in the Christ, and to all the saints, 16. I don’t cease expressing thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers 17. so that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18. having the eyes of your heart enlightened. This is so that you perceive what is the expectation of His calling, what is the abundance of the glory of His inheritance with the saints, 19. and what is the surpassing greatness of His power among us who believe, according to the working of the power of His might. 20. He worked this in Christ, having raised Him up from the dead and seated Him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21. far above every ruler and authority and power and lordship and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the coming age. 22. He placed everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over all the 23. Church. The Church is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.


In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson

Christians are called to pray without ceasing. In “In Constant Prayer” Robert Benson introduces to a new generation the “Daily Office”. Robert Benson roots the Daily Office in Jewish and Church history. It is a time to seek and worship God. The Daily Office consists of various set prayers, songs, psalms, and scriptures. The Daily Office can be said one time per day or many times per day.

 

Much of the book is devoted to Robert Benson’s life and how the Daily Office is an important part of it. He writes in a very down to earth and friendly style. I have no doubt that he has enjoyed the Daily Office and that he has found it a benefit to himself.

 

In my opinion, the book failed in its task. The Daily Office is far from being constant prayer. It is simply set times of prayer throughout the day with set prayers. Robert Benson did not back up his historical claims for the Daily Office with any references, therefore, I am not so convinced that it was important to the early Church. The Daily Office may be of some help if you need some help knowing how to pray, but it will not gain you intimacy with your Father. It seems to me a religious act which belongs with the old covenant. We should be able to go beyond set prayers and enjoy Christ with whatever He sets in our hearts.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Let Us Pray by Watchman Nee

Watchman Nee

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In “Let Us Pray”, Watchman Nee brings us into the deep waters of the mystery of prayer. He reveals that “the prayer which a believer utters on earth is but the voicing of the Lord’s will in heaven”. Any expression of our own will that is not God’s will is not prayer at all and will be ineffective.

Using examples from Scripture, Watchman Nee shows the importance of prayer in the lives of Christians, because “all the actions in heaven are governed by the actions on earth!” Although, God has His eternal will, which He will complete, He will wait to act until His People join with Him in prayer.

Watchman Nee uses the parable of the widow, who repeatedly bothers the judge because of the oppression of her enemy, to show the importance of praying against Satan. This is a type of prayer that Jesus prophesied would be rare when He returns.

I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
(Luk 18:8 ESV)

Watchman Nee continues throughout the book showing the importance of prayer, offering examples of effectual prayers, explaining types of prayers, and revealing the schemes that Satan uses to harm us.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much when I started reading this little book. I have quite a few books on prayer and there comes a point when you have to ask: “Is there anything else that someone can say about prayer?” Watchman Nee has showed me my many failures in prayer. I understood that prayer is always to be according to God’s will, but I didn’t realize He waits for our prayers before He acts.

How unfaithful to my Lord have I been in this matter! I have not been praying for His return. I have not been praying for Satan to be bound and cast into the pit. I have not begged our Father to rebuke the evil one with all of His wrath for causing all kinds of pains and sufferings on His Children. Christ has revealed to me that He wishes for us to join in His work and is willing to delay the fulfillment of His will, because we don’t yet care enough to pray about His desires. How the army of heaven has suffered, because we have been unwilling to aid them in their battle against the enemy of Christ.

If Christ is always interceding for us, how can we justify not joining with Him in fulfilling the eternal purpose of God?

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