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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Joining Jesus in the Intimacy Circle

The sweat of his exertion dripped from the tall preacher’s brow. His thunderous voice echoed richly through the packed meeting hall, addressing hungry, attentive hearts. His energetic gestures punctuated every burning word as he heralded the wondrous message: “Jesus came to save us from our sins!”

Glory be! Jesus did! What breathtaking news! All of our life, all of our existence, all that we are, is staked on this magnificent truth!!

But you know something?  There is more.

The More

Sometimes, we come short of understanding all the reasons that Jesus came. Sometimes, in giving our sole attention to Jesus’ earthly mission to die for us, we miss one of the other central, essential reasons He took on human flesh. He came and walked in our pain for another, urgently critical objective.

He came to show us what intimate relationship with Daddy looks like. This up-close demonstration of Their connection was not merely for us to gaze with admiration. He provided it so we could enter into this exquisite richness too. This is what He meant by these final words, the night He was to culminate His earthly assignment:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9, ESV).

This instruction segued into His closing prayer to Daddy, sealing those last hours together with His beloved friends:

“I in them, and You in Me; that… the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23, NKJV).

Both of these verses communicate to us that the infinite love that openly flows between Daddy and Jesus, is the very same love that Daddy and Jesus have for you and me. And because They love us with this same kind of intensity and fire of passion, They also yearn to bring us into the same kind of inseparable, abiding, exquisite Spirit-to-spirit fellowship that They ceaselessly enjoy. Jesus made it clear that night that He is drawing us all into the very same oneness that They exult in:

“At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20, NKJV).

Those were His parting words. He made this announcement after three years of showing them how. Every single day of Jesus’ earthly sojourn, He exhibited to them (and to us) what it’s like to live life in Daddy’s embrace. Every day, those around Him watched Him lean ceaselessly into His Father with unspeakable closeness. They saw how He did not make one move, nor speak one word, except what He experienced Daddy doing and saying through Him.

The disciples saw how this intimate knowledge flowed out of His unbreakable, indescribably profound communion with His Abba. When Jesus prayed out loud for them to listen, they could hear how intimately familiar Jesus was with the Father’s heart. The conspicuousness of Their connection was achingly lovely.

Jesus Wants You With Him

It is so important that we grasp that He did this for us. He could easily have stayed in heaven, enjoying the bliss of oneness with His Abba, without having needed to bother with prolonged years dealing with the limitations of a human body. But He came here to live it in front of us, so that we would know firsthand that this is what He wants for us too. He could have popped down for a bit, died on the cross, and quickly returned to heavenly rapture with Daddy. But if He’d done that, He wouldn’t have had the opportunity to model for us the way He longs for us to live: in the bosom of the Father.

From His very first recorded earthly words at age twelve, He was voicing His enthusiasm about the center of His existence: Daddy. As He Himself taught us, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. His heart was continually overflowing with the love bliss He was living out with Daddy, and so this is what came out of His mouth. He couldn’t stop talking about His Father.

Then, once He had achieved His goal of revealing to us what it looks to live out of our place in Daddy God’s heart, it was time for Him to pay the price to make it possible. To this end, He gave His life in torturous death. As soon as He was alive again, He resumed the same topic: “I am ascending to My Father and your Father…” (John 20:17, NKJV). He had just done it. He had just made His Abba, your Abba, and my Abba.

He was communicating, in essence, “For these three years, I showed you what rapturous union with Daddy looks like. Now join Me. My Daddy is now your Daddy. Be one with Us. He in Me, and I in you, and you in Me.

"I am about to send My Spirit to you. I will pour Him into you until you, too, overflow with this heavenly love. He is the Spirit of Adoption, the Spirit of Sonship and Daughterhood. Through Him, you, too will cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Through Him, you, too, will experience belonging, to the utmost meaning of the word. Through Him, you, too, will be wrapped up with Me, in Daddy’s bosom. From that place, you will live out the abundant, beautiful, victorious life that I have written in My book for you before the worlds began!”

What This Means for You and Me

When the disciples heard Jesus’ words of announcement, the joy that spilled over within them must have been almost too much to contain. To think that that bliss they saw Jesus ceaselessly revel in with His Daddy, was now to be theirs. No wonder Peter described this ecstasy as “joy inexpressible and full of glory!” (1 Peter 1:8, NKJV). They recognized immediately that Jesus was now to bring them into His Intimacy Circle with the Father.

This – for them and for you and for me – would mean drinking deeply of:
  • Mutual Delight: They had heard Daddy announce from Heaven in overflowing tones about Jesus, “This is My Son, whom I love, in whom I am well pleased!” They understood that now they would hear Him proclaim these same words of exultant love over them. They would come to know, deep in their very core, what it was like to be fully delighted in. In return, spontaneous delighting in Daddy would spring up from their heart of hearts, as a lifestyle. So it will from yours and mine.
  • Guidance: Jesus had let them know in no uncertain terms that He did nothing at all on His own. Daddy spoke every word through His mouth, and Daddy performed every work through His body. Daddy directed every moment of His every day. Now they, too, were to taste the exquisite beauty of yielding moment by moment, every single second of their lives, to His magnificent lead. So will you and I.
  • Belonging: How many times had they heard Jesus’ voice radiate tenderness in expressing, “I am in My Father, and He is in Me”? As John explained at the outset of his gospel, the Son is in the Father’s bosom (John 1:18). These men knew that being adopted into the Intimacy Circle meant a place in His heart that no one could ever take away from them, for all of eternity. They would now belong in Daddy’s embrace, forever. This is now your permanent home too, and mine.
  • Identity: In moving into the divine Intimacy Circle, they were receiving a brand new identity. As Ephesians tells us, the whole family in heaven and earth is named from the Father (Eph. 3:14). He gives us a new name. He tells us who we are. He calls us “Loved.” “Cherished.” “Precious.” “Chosen.” “Celebrated.” “My Delight.” “Mine.” From here on out, these men would live and move and have their being out of their identity as chosen, beloved children of the Father. So will you and I!

The Strength that Comes from Belovedness

There has never been a point, since all of eternity past, that Daddy and Jesus have not danced rapturously together in Their glorious Intimacy Circle. From of old, Their love has been the center of all existence. From this union, came everything else. Jesus, the Wisdom of God, testifies about drinking of this bliss with His Abba at the very beginning of time: “I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence” (Prov. 8:30, NLT). Out of that glorious rapture of intimacy, They gave birth to the earth and to humankind.

That same union gave Jesus the strength to walk through, on earth, what He had never had to endure pre-incarnation. This is why Isaiah could prophesy about Him that He would never falter or be discouraged during His days in the body (Isa. 42:4). He drew deep, powerful emotional strength from His position of belonging in Daddy’s bosom. His heart could hear Daddy announcing to the universe, “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!” (Isa. 42:1, NKJV). This was all He needed, to continue to joyfully move through each day as it unfolded.

And now He is inviting you to live the same way. His Daddy is your Daddy. You were born for drinking in His delight in you, for abandoning yourself to His ceaseless and total guidance, for belonging to Him, for exulting in the identity of being His own. You were born for His bosom. Everything about your earthly existence is meant to flow from that place in His arms. Just as Daddy loves Jesus, He loves you. Just as He yearns for Jesus, He yearns for you. Just as He strengthened Jesus with the fury of His passionate love, so He aches to strengthen you. Their oneness is beckoning you. Their eyes are full of tender fire. Their arms are open and waiting, extended longingly to you. Will you run into them? Will you abandon yourself to the Intimacy Circle?

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Divine Dermatologist and the Removal of Spiritual Moles

Dream: I caught sight of two big, hideous moles that had developed on me. The first was sticking out of my upper eyelid; the second had sprouted on my upper chest, a short distance under my collar bone. I looked at them and realized how much they had grown, even featuring little branching parts all around. They were tall in proportion, and vertically shaped. Even now as I remember the dream, the visual picture of the two of them gives me chills. That’s how ugly they were.

I was dismayed. Full of anticipation of how painful their removal was going to be, I started planning to make a dermatologist appointment. But suddenly, my sister Anna was there with me. She applied a medicinal substance to my eyelid, and the first mole came off easily, without any discomfort whatsoever. I looked into the mirror with great surprise and relief, thanking her. I was about to request that she remove the second mole when the dream ended.

Divine “Mole” Removal

I share this dream with you because I know in my spirit that it is for you as much as it is for me. Holy Spirit has something vital to share with us through it. This is His message:

Daddy God longs to remove all hindrances to our ability to see Him. With this dream, He was creating a play on words, in order to convey to us this longing of His. A mole, in English, is also a little animal that tunnels through the ground. Characteristically, it has very poor eyesight; the little creature cannot distinguish colors. Hence, by portraying a “mole” on my eyelid that was so bulky it would have hindered my ability to see, He was doubly emphasizing a picture of visual impediment. He further accentuated the picture by showing me that this impediment was even growing over my heart (the second mole, on my chest).

Many times, the circumstances of our lives cause impediments to grow up and block our ability to perceive spiritual truth. Frequently these “moles” spring up in our earliest childhood, through our upbringing. In other cases, they either sprout or become worse due to the circumstances of our adult years. Whatever the cause may be, we oftentimes find ourselves with major blind spots that keep us from accurately seeing God. We may have an idea of what we think He is like, but that perception is often distorted. This distortion, or impediment, steals from us the most essential component of our existence: being able to intimately know His beautiful heart as it truly is.

It’s His grace that will heal us. The name “Anna” (my sister, in the dream) means grace, favor, and beauty. In my dream, my sister represented God’s grace: the beauty of His unmerited favor. His grace came to me, touched my eye, and the impediment fell off both immediately and painlessly. His unmerited favor is the only thing that can restore our ability to see Him. There is absolutely nothing we can do to earn this healing; we must simply ask for it (as I was preparing to do as the dream ended.) As we come into contact with His beauty and His loveliness, all hindrances fall away.

We are left blinking and astonished at His wonderful work in the depths of us, and overflowing with gratitude… just like in the dream, I was amazed at how Anna had been able to address my difficult issue with such ease. Thanking her was my natural, instinctive response. Thanking the One who makes our blind eyes to see will be the spontaneous response of our grateful, healed hearts as well.

Spiritual Sight Restored in the Intimacy Circle

With this in mind, I want to share with you a passage of Scripture that addresses the way He heals our vision impediments. He recently deepened these verses for me, bringing them vibrantly alive, and I know there is so much here for you too. Out of them, He gave me six truths that will help you and me know Him more deeply as He restores our sight.

The Scripture He gave me is Matthew 11:25-30. Read these words slowly and carefully, with thoughtful meditation. Read them through the lens of understanding that each line here has something to teach us about receiving healing revelation from God… revelation that will cure our blindness and open our eyes to see Him:

“At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:25-30, ESV).

Holy Spirit broke this passage down for me as follows:

1.       Revelation of His heart comes through childlike trust. “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes…’” (Matt. 11:25, ALV, bold emphasis mine). In order to receive Heaven’s revelation, we need to become as babes. Jesus, taking the little children in His arms, urged us to welcome His Kingdom as one of them. He went so far as to say that it would be impossible for us to enter the Kingdom without adopting a heart posture like theirs.

Entering the Kingdom means entering into its fullness. It means receiving all the benefits of the Kingdom, including the ability to gaze on the King. If we are going to enter into these benefits, we need to come to Him in innocent trust, just as the children did that day (Mark 10:14-16). We don’t need faith in our own ability to believe adequately; rather, we need to lean deeply into His ability to perfect our faith and all that pertains to our growth in Him.

Becoming childlike means that we relinquish our right to understand, and we let go of our right to be in control. It means we feel no need to have life figured out, because we know that the One holding us in His everlasting arms already has it all worked out in absolute perfection. It means we snuggle into His bosom in absolute abandon. It means we unquestioningly expect Him to take care of us. It means we see Him as huge and us as really little, and completely safe in His big, strong embrace.

We need Jesus to take us into His arms, just as He did for those little ones. As He blessed them, we need Him to release to us the blessing of spiritual sight. Let’s ask Him to do so right now, and then every day of our lives to come.

2.       He loves sharing Himself with us! “Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight(v. 26, bold emphasis mine). It pleases Daddy greatly to give us revelation. When we come to Him as His little ones, His heart overflows. He exults in the opportunity to take us deeper into the knowledge of His heart. Eyes twinkling, He whispers to us: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32, ESV). Nothing could bring Him more pleasure than to impart to us deeper heart knowledge of who He is.

3.       He is delighted to bring His humble, trusting, dependent ones into His Daddy-Son intimacy circle. “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son, save the Father, nor does anyone know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomever the Son wills to reveal him(v. 27, bold emphasis mine). Jesus wills to reveal to Father to you. He yearns for you to know, like He does, how beautiful Daddy is. He is eternally in His bosom, where Abba’s tenderness flows freely. Daddy and Son exult ceaselessly in closeness and the blissful sharing of Their love. Knowing each other fully, profoundly, and exquisitely is the result of dwelling together, permanently entwined in love.

How Jesus loves to bring us into Their intimacy! When we climb up to nestle into His bosom, He eagerly pulls us into Their unending circle of mutual delight. Daddy expresses to our deepest hearts that He loves us just as much as He loves Jesus. Jesus chimes in warmly and tells us that He loves us just as much as Daddy loves Him (John 1:18; 15:9; 17:23).

4.       He extends to each one of us His invitation to receive this deeper revelation of Him. Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (v. 28, bold emphasis mine). Do you hear Him calling to you? Do you feel His summons pulling gently on your heart? No one, absolutely no one, is excluded. He beckons to every single human soul needing a haven… “Come.” To each of us needing our blind spots removed, He gently urges, “Come to Me…”

5.       Revelation of Himself is how Jesus reveals Daddy to us. “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart…” (v. 29a, bold emphasis mine). In verse 27, Jesus speaks about revealing His Abba to us. This is how He does it. Showing us His own heart.

He invites us, “Learn of Me. Receive Me. Taste of My goodness, My nearness, My gentleness, My humility. Experience for yourself how approachable I am, how inviting, how accessible, how welcoming. Look into My eyes. See that I am brimming over with kindness, and that I am exceedingly eager to have you close. Receive revelation of My exquisite love for you. As I deposit this knowledge Spirit to spirit into the depths of you, the impartation of My devotion to you will transcend words. As you breathe Me in, you breathe in Daddy too. He and I are one. Together, we draw you into Our oneness, into Our union, into Our mutual delight.”

6.       Revelation of Him is rest. “…and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (v. 29b, 30, bold emphasis mine). As we allow ourselves to be the cherished little ones in His arms, the spirit of revelation pours from His heart into ours. Wrapped up in the Godhead’s eternal intimacy circle, rest begins to flow to the deepest places of our being.

Our tensed up shoulders relax. We let go of everything we have had tightly clenched in our hands, releasing all of it, absolutely all of it, to Him. All stress drains from our body, soul, and spirit. We sink deeply into His strong, tender embrace. Real, heavenly rest penetrates every pore, sinks into every crevice, and permeates to the very fiber of our being. In coming to experientially know who He is, we come to intimately know what it really means to rest.

This is the balm of Gilead. This is the salve that He applies to our eyes, that we might see Him. The beauty of His grace gently removes everything that has been hindering our eyes from gazing on Him. All impediments fall away instantly and painlessly. We blink in astonishment, overcome by the beauty of the Lovely One. All that remains is to give voice to the spontaneous overflow of thanksgiving that bubbles up to Him out of our hearts, overwhelmed by all that He is and all that He has done…

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Startling Power Available to Simple Believers Who Gaze on God

The prophet stood in front of me, an ecstatic glow emanating from his whole being. He had died, but he was alive again. His eyes wide with wonder, he exclaimed, “I saw Him!” He then wrapped his arms around me. This supernatural embrace was a living power encounter. In it, I felt God’s overwhelming glory, light and energy sweep through my being.

When I woke up from this dream, I knew it was a weighty one. The brother it featured had graduated to heaven a few weeks prior. I have come to understand that the Lord deposited something vitally important into me through this nighttime experience. Holy Spirit was further awakening in me His gift of seeing into the heavenly realms. This man of God proclaimed to me, “I saw Him,” and then symbolically passed that seeing to me through his embrace.

This is the third installment of the series in which I’ve been sharing with you about partnering with God in intercession. Today, I want to delve into the practical “how to” aspect of this co-labor with Him in response to the groaning of creation. As Holy Spirit emphasized in my dream, we need to see Him. Central to effectively becoming God’s channel, releasing His purposes into the earth, is this crucial matter of seeing into the Kingdom realm. (To read this series from the beginning, click here).

Look at the Throne

Has it ever happened to you, that you set aside time for prayer, and ended up more discouraged by the time you were done than when you began? There is a reason for this. Our prayers will always follow the focus of our heart’s eyes. Frequently, our spiritual eyes are fixated on the problem instead of on the Solution (God!). As a result, we end up pointing our expended energy towards the dilemma instead of towards the Lord.

A particular prayer gathering I attended recently sticks out in my memory as an illustration of this principle. At the beginning of the meeting, an intercessor went through a long list of dire prayer needs. Each and every one of them was real, legitimate, and troubling. The result of reading them all out at length was that the atmosphere of the meeting began on a very low note. Trying to move from there up into a place of faith after that was like trudging through mud.

A much more effective way to start out any prayer time, whether corporately or alone in the privacy of your bedroom, is to purposefully focus on Jesus sitting on His throne. Fixing our spiritual eyes on Him is a discipline that take practice; however, if you keep at it, you will gradually find it coming more and more naturally to you. (For further insight into how to get started with this practice, read here.)

As you fix your gaze on Him in His beauty and His glory, your spirit lifts. I imagine you have heard the expression, “it lifted my spirits?” That’s a real dynamic in the invisible realm. We find its description in this verse: “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (Ps. 25:1, NKJV). As we get our focus on Him, our soul begins to lift. We begin to operate out of the spiritual position He purchased for us with His blood: that of being seated with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). This places us with Him, high above the troubling earthly circumstances that are needing attention in prayer. From this vantage point, we are able to connect effectively with His own intercession and release its power into the physical realm.

In the last two parts of this series, we talked about the Holy Spirit’s groaning as He expresses the pain He is experiencing, intermingling with all of creation’s turmoil. When we are operating out of our position seated with Jesus, He can readily pour through us His intercession for those problems happening “down below” in the earthly realm, where He has His “boots on the ground.” As we continue to fixate the eyes of our heart on Jesus reigning on His throne, Holy Spirit discharges His prayers through us. Those prayers hit target like flaming arrows. They penetrate Father God’s heart, and in turn, His power floods through us, releasing His purposes into the earth through those very petitions that Holy Spirit is sending through our spirits.

Seeing in Spirit Enhances Effective Intercession

The book of Revelation vividly portrays this dynamic flow happening between heaven and earth as we stand in our intercessory position:

“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake” (Rev. 8:3-5, NKJV).

In this scene before God’s throne, we see both upward and downward movement. Our prayers are moving upwards from the earth, ascending before Him as fragrant, pleasing incense. In response, Heaven throws fire from the altar downwards, into the earth. That fire is what God’s mighty power looks like visually in spirit. He hurls this unstoppable power down to move situations on our behalf. The stunning force of His answer to our intercession, in the heavenly realms, looks like brilliant flashes of lighting, sounds like deafening thunder, and feels like the overwhelming shakings of an earthquake.

When our spiritual eyes connect with these extremely real dynamics, we become much more effective in our synergy with Holy Spirit’s intercession. In this way, we become His living ladders, connecting the high and holy place with the plight of the lowly and broken (Gen. 28:12, Is. 57:15).

Our Role as Kings and Priests

We learn from John’s revelation of the risen Jesus that He “…loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5-6, NKJV). Truly, this is a stunning privilege. To be called His kings and His priests is not just pretty, poetic language. These two titles describe the crucial role He has given us here on the earth as we await His return.

The other reference in the book of Revelation to being His kings and priests is in conjunction with the “…golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev 5:8,10, NKJV). Our function in these two roles is intercessory. As kings and priests, we are to fill those golden bowls full of incense, setting in motion the spiritual lightnings, thunderings, and earthquakes that will transform the world around us.

What does this mean? In order to understand, let’s examine each of the two functions separately.
Kings: This word reveals the authority that God has delegated to us in the earthly realm. To sit in this position means to rule, to exercise dominion. As we employ our spiritual eyes and fixate on God’s throne, He will release His decrees through us. We find an example of this in the Old Testament figure of King Cyrus, put into place by God to enforce His purposes for His people.

The book of Isaiah, describing Cyrus, provides a fascinating look into how God operates through us as kings. Let’s dig into these verses:

“[The LORD] says of Jerusalem, 'It shall be inhabited,' of the towns of Judah, 'They shall be built,' and of their ruins, 'I will restore them.’ …[He] says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid”’” (Isa. 44:26b;28, NIV).

First, God announces to us what His divine decrees are: Jerusalem shall be inhabited and the towns of Judah shall be built up again. Immediately afterwards, He announces that He will implement these decrees through Cyrus. This king, chosen by His hand, will be His earthly mouthpiece, uttering the decrees of His heart: “Let it be rebuilt!” and “Let its foundations be laid!”

Remember, now that Jesus has washed our sins in His blood, you have become His chosen king (or queen)! Whatever His intentions are for the earth, His will is to utter those decrees through you as you inhabit your place in the heavenly realms seated with Christ. Whatever problematic circumstance that He brings you into intercession for, allow Him to cry out through you, “Let these ruins be rebuilt! Let the foundations be laid! Let restoration come forth, in the mighty name of Jesus!”

Look what this same passage of Scripture guarantees: “[The LORD] carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers” (v. 26). I love how the Living Bible renders this one: “When they say Jerusalem will be delivered and the cities of Judah lived in once again-it shall be done!” (bold emphasis mine). When you are carried along by Holy Spirit in intercession, releasing His kingly decrees into the earth, it shall be done!

Priests: God has also called us a “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9). To understand this part of our intercessory role as believers, we need to look at the responsibilities He entrusted to the priests in the Old Testament. Their function foreshadowed what we are to be doing now as ministers of the New Covenant. (We are all ministers of His covenant! Holy Spirit urges those without ministry titles to rise up into this universal call to all true believers in Him!)

We could do an extensive, lengthy study on this subject, but for today’s purposes I only want to highlight the priest’s most central duty. That is, to apply the blood for redemption. Aaron and his offspring held the solemn duty of presenting the shed blood of the sacrifice in the presence of God. Representing the blood that Jesus would shed for us, this crimson flow was for the atonement of sins.

We, as God’s chosen new covenant priests, are to apply His precious blood as we stand before Him in intercession. As His Spirit leads us and prays through us, we plead His blood over each person and circumstance that is stirring in His heart. He has given us authority to apply it in the heavenly realms and to loose its power to break the hold of sin, darkness, and the curse in the lives of those He dearly loves.

Will You Respond?

Dear one, you have been chosen by Him. He looked out over all His creation, and He saw you. He carefully, lovingly, powerfully selected you. He is brimming over with excitement for the partnership He foresees with you that will literally bring transformation into His beloved earth. He is calling you to be His living ladder, where the activity of Heaven will ascend and descend… connecting His glorious, unlimited power with the cries and groanings of His precious ones. Will you gaze at the Throne today and allow Him to release through you into this world what is stirring passionately in His heart for them?

Royal, priestly intercessor, take your place!


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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Between Heaven and Earth: You, the Ladder

My spirit stirred with joy and excitement as Holy Spirit downloaded the truths to me that I am about to share with you. I scribbled so much into the margins of my Bible that day, that there was virtually no white space remaining on the page. If you want to fully understand this article, however, make sure and read my previous post. It is a critical introduction to this revelatory teaching.

In it, we talked about how Jesus both inhabits the high and holy place of Heaven, and dwells among us in our hurting world. We explored how His Spirit groans with the human pain in which He is immersed here. Today, we are going to delve into how He longs to channel His prayers for humankind through us, and how He will bring Heaven to earth through our surrendered lives when we partner with Him for this purpose.

Jesus Our Ladder

Jesus did not become our Intercessor when He ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father. He occupied this office well before that point. In fact, His intercessory role underscored and saturated His entire mission as incarnate Savior.

The book of Hebrews describes His passionate lifestyle of prayer while here in the flesh: “During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears… and he was heard because of his devotion” (Heb. 5:7, NET). The gospels tell us of His frequent habit of withdrawing for hours of time alone with Daddy God for this purpose. Spending all night long in intercession was not uncommon for Him.

It was during this window of His time on earth that Jesus became the fulfillment of Jacob’s supernatural encounter at Bethel. Centuries earlier, God had revealed to Jacob His vision for connecting Heaven and earth: “And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!” (Gen. 28:12, AMPC).

Jesus became that ladder. He Himself became the connection between the celestial Kingdom and this physical world. By acquiring a human body, He submersed Himself completely into the reality of the darkness and pain that had overtaken our planet since the fall of man. This is to say, He took up residence at the bottom of Jacob’s ladder, the earthly realm. From this position, He took up His ministry of intercession. He moved into place as the living bridge between us and all the fullness of Heaven.

At the very commencement of His ministry, He announced this intercessory function to his brand new disciples: “I tell all of you the solemn truth - you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51, NET).

They immediately recognized His reference to Jacob’s ladder. With these words, He was proclaiming to them, “I have come to fulfill what has been promised for so long. I have come as the living portal to Heaven. Through Me, the glory of My Father’s dwelling place will collide with Earth’s suffering. Starting now, My Kingdom will come, My will be done, here at the foot of the Ladder, as it is at its top, in Heaven.”

The Ladder Begets More Ladders

Those men did not realize it at the time, but in that moment, He was inaugurating their training. He immediately began modeling for them the role that He would soon pass onto them. After three and a half short years of ministry, He would be handing them His intercessory baton. He would be declaring to them, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:12-14, NIV).

Of course, those words were not just for them, but for you and me as well. I am confident that you have heard this Scripture before, along with teaching that we will do more extensive, more mighty exploits than Jesus, as His representatives. However, did you ever notice the verses directly following? They are about prayer. The “greater things” that we are called to do have everything to do with our partnership with Him in intercession.

As He demonstrated for us how to become the connection between Heaven and earth, He has now beckoned us into that very role. He has now poured out His Spirit on us, to empower us to fulfill this commission on the earth, just as He showed us. We are to become living ladders, bringing the power of Heaven to earth’s vast needs through prayer. The activity of Heaven is to move up and down through us as we stand in the gap on behalf of the hurting and the broken. As we surrender to the Spirit of God, He will flow through us, connecting the high and holy place with the plight of the lowly:

“For this is what the high and lofty One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa. 57:15, NIV).

Vessels of His Prayers

Holy Spirit has often pulled me into His powerful responses to the hurting world around me. The other day, it happened again. When I opened my phone to read the news, my eyes fell on a story of a public figure who lost her three-year-old daughter in a tragic accident. Even though I had never before heard of this individual, I burst into tears.

Someone observing from a natural perspective might have looked at me and assumed that I have an overly emotional personality, or was extra tired and on edge that day. However, I wasn’t. And I know better. This type of thing happens to me regularly, and I have learned to recognize it as the Spirit of Jesus interceding through me.

Holy Spirit aches with this woman’s pain, and not just with hers alone. Every single day, He hovers and broods over this world, involved intimately in each and every personal story. Every stab of emotional agony shoots through His heart. As such, He looks for willing Ladders who will allow Him to flow through them in prayer. As He experiences human pain acutely, He pours it out at the right hand of the Father in intercession through those of us willing to be His channels.

Understanding this, I have learned to pause when He begins to move in me this way. I let the tears come. I start to pray in the Spirit, allowing Him to well up in me with those groans that words cannot express. Once I give space to His expression, after a window of time (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter), the burden lifts. At that point, I know that He has accomplished in prayer whatever He needed to. Actual healing has been released into the earth through His intercession. My emotions return to completely normal, and I resume my usual activities.

Do you see that I did not have to “come up with” that prayer assignment? Holy Spirit coordinated, initiated, and executed the entire thing. All He needs, to bring Heaven’s answers to earth, is a surrendered, available vessel. He will do absolutely everything else.

He doesn’t need us to bear the weight of the world on our shoulders. He’s already doing that. He doesn’t need us to keep tabs on all the sorrow and grief happening in every corner of creation. He’s already on that. He doesn’t need us to become the savior and fix the world’s problems. He’s already doing an astounding job moving the cosmos forward in His flawless plans for her complete redemption. He doesn’t need us to carry any of it. All He needs is vessels. As we lean completely into Him day to day, He will accomplish mind-boggling progress with His purposes through our yielded hearts and lives. He will do it, and we will have the breathtaking joy of being intimately involved!

Do you want to be His prayer channel? He is so eager to pour His redemptive life through you into the pain and suffering around you! You don’t need any special qualifications at all; not eloquence, not smarts, not charisma, not years of experience… only willingness. If you will offer yourself to Him today to be His intercessory conduit, He will take you up on the offer. He will begin to train you in the intricacies of recognizing and following His lead. Some indescribably wonderful adventures lie ahead as He begins to do new things in and through you, His living ladder!

Don’t miss the next installation of this series. I will be sharing some exciting specifics, addressing the “how to” aspect of partnering with Holy Spirit in His intercession for the world around us!


Does this teaching stir your spirit with hunger for more of Jesus? I'd love to send my posts to you regularly! Look for the "Subscribe by Email" button on the desktop version of this blog to receive them in your inbox :)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Responding with the Spirit of Jesus to Human Pain

Sorrow hung heavily, like a shroud, over my soul that day. It had become painful to push through each task at hand. That’s when Jesus broke through to me. Suddenly, I felt His gentle hands on my cheeks. He ever so tenderly tilted my gaze upwards as He held my face. My eyes saw His. They were full of pain. My pain. He was feeling my pain.

Mercifully, that troubling season has come and gone, but the truth of that moment remains with me. Jesus is here in our suffering. His emotions are wrapped up in our heartache. Walking through the pulsating, stabbing agony with us, He feels it more keenly, more sharply, more deeply, than we even do. He identifies with us so closely in our anguish that He calls us “My brothers.” When someone ministers to us, alleviating our distress, He experiences great personal relief. Through the sound waves of eternity, His voice cries out gratefully to that person, “As you have done it unto My brothers, so you have done it unto Me!”

Jesus does not stop with feeling and identifying with our grieved emotions. He responds to them. His indescribably profound compassion is inextricably woven into the flow of His power on our behalf. Specifically, as He is touched with the feeling of our afflictions, He channels His lion’s roar of passion into intercession on our behalf. He is our great Intercessor, gone through the heavens to make unceasing prayers on our behalf to the Father. Through this post and the next, I will be unpacking both the principles of His own intercession and His invitation to us into partnership with Him as He stands in this role.

(Important note: Intercession does not need to be one of your main spiritual gifts for this article to relate to you. If you desire to know how to be a part of releasing Jesus’ power into your world to bring healing to its brokenness, read on!)

Soaring Joy and Searing Pain, Simultaneously?

If you have some understanding of how gloriously peaceful the heavenly places are, it may be confusing to think of Jesus as sorrowful. If the atmosphere around His throne is alive with joy inexpressible and resplendent with light more brilliant than the sun… then how could any sadness exist there? Especially since the book of Revelation tells us there is no weeping in Heaven?

I asked Him this exact question. In response, He breathed a Scripture from Isaiah into my spirit:

“For this is what the high and lofty One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa. 57:15, NIV).

I began to understand. He lives in “a high and holy place” – which is Heaven – and with the lowly in spirit – here on fallen, dysfunctional Planet Earth. It’s not either/or. It’s both. He inhabits eternity, exulting in endless bliss… and He is right here in our mess, weeping with us. Because He is God, He has infinite capacity within Himself to experience all of this at once. He has room for joy inexpressible, full of glory and for the searing pain of unspeakable loss, simultaneously. It all fits within the immeasurable space of His exquisitely beautiful heart.

From the moment that Jesus stepped out of the eternal realm and into Mary’s womb, He brought fulfillment to the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. God had announced from before the beginning of time that the Savior’s name would be Immanuel, God with us. He came to take up residence in a human body. He came to walk in our sandals, to find out what all of our sorrows tasted like. He came to drink them to the last drop.

Holy Spirit with Us… With ALL of Us

Everything that He experienced would then become fuel for His intercession when He had conquered death and sat down at the right hand of the Father. When He knew that new role was fast approaching, He invited His close friends to a private dinner to prepare them for the coming transition. There, He earnestly explained to them, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7, NKJV).

When Jesus returned to Heaven and the Father exalted Him to the highest place, He kept His promise. He poured out His Spirit on those waiting disciples. The Helper came and indwelt them far more intimately than even Jesus’ presence had been when He lived among them physically. The power He poured out over and through them was exponentially greater than what they had experienced by living in close proximity to Him in the flesh. A new era had begun.

That new era was and is marked by Holy Spirit’s inundating, saturating presence in the earth. He is everywhere. Tragically, so many people are unaware of His nearness. Even some of us Christians have an erroneous concept of Him that perceives Him as elitist. Often we imagine that He limits Himself to visiting and blessing church services. We think of Him as exclusively gracing believers in Jesus Christ with His nearness. This could not be farther from the truth.

Holy Spirit is right now hovering over forlorn prison cells and forgotten hovels. He is immersed in the anguished moments of distraught family members waiting by silent hospital beds. Wherever someone is brokenhearted or crushed in spirit, He is there, exceedingly close. He is the Spirit of Jesus. He is weeping with every grief-stricken soul on the planet. Every single one. His dwelling place is with the lowly; His longing, to revive and restore each heart.

Summoned Into a Holy Partnership

As Jesus incarnate was Immanuel, the Spirit of Jesus in the earth now carries on His Immanuel mission. He executes this charge in a way that is multiplied gloriously beyond what Jesus would have been able to accomplish if He were still in a human body. From His omnipresent position intertwined with humanity’s suffering, Holy Spirit is uniquely positioned to partner with Jesus in intercession. As the book of Romans expresses, “…The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26b, NKJV).

A few verses earlier, we see the concept of groaning associated with the world around us: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (v. 22). As we study this passage as a whole, we gain insight into the Spirit’s work. He is here with us. He is keenly, intensely experiencing the pain and the groaning of the world He brought forth. In response, He cries out in fervent intercession for His creation, with inexpressible groanings of His own.

And this is where you and I come in. This description of Holy Spirit’s guttural groans is actually in the context of our own prayers. To look now at the entire verse, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Left on our own, you and I would not know how to pray adequately. God here is very plainly calling us “weak” in prayer, when it comes to our own resource and ability. We just plain have no idea what needs praying for.

However, we are not left on our own! The Spirit of Jesus, intimately in touch with every problem on the face of the earth, is inside of our bodies, one with our spirits. He knows exactly what to pray, and He is summoning us to join Him on His intercessory quest. Yes, dear one, this includes you. He will pray through you and me, as we allow His passionate supplication to pour through our spirits and out of our mouths. He will bring fulfillment to the purposes of God into the earth, as we lean deeply into Him, following His lead in prayer!

He has been stirring this message in me for months, and I have much more to share with you about it. Please stay tuned for my next post. Together we will explore this partnership into which He is beckoning us – and how He desires to release His thoughts, intents, and redemptive plans through us into His beloved, hurting creation!


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Friday, January 19, 2018

Buying Gold from God

So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see” (Rev. 3:18, NLT).

This verse came into my spirit one morning recently as I was remembering what I had dreamed the night before. In the dream, my eye was red and clearly had something wrong with it. A prominent minister approached me with urgency, to pray for me. When she did, I felt utterly enveloped in love and collapsed under the power of God. When I came back to consciousness (in the dream), my eye was completely healed.

As I was journaling this dream, I sensed it was not only for me, but also for you. Holy Spirit began to give me a word to share with you. I opened up the book of Revelation to the passage above, and beautiful truth began to stir in my heart.

Before I jump into the meaning of the dream, let’s take a look at the Scripture He highlighted in conjunction with it. The preceding verse is important as well: “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!’ And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (v. 17). Ouch, right? Sometimes, though, we need the Lord to be lovingly blunt with us.

The first thing Jesus does for us here is identify three reasons that the Laodicean church is in a state of spiritual wretchedness and misery (by extension, this sometimes applies to us too):

  • Thinking they are wealthy, they are poor.
  • Thinking they lack nothing, they are naked.
  • Thinking they already have everything desirable, they are blind.

Jesus then offers three spiritual commodities to His children – them and us – that tenderly address and provide for these crippling issues:

  • Purified gold.
  • White garments.
  • Eye salve/ointment.

Each one is symbolic of something that we desperately need from Him. We will examine them more closely, one by one. But first, we need to make sure and grasp what He means by instructing us to “buy” them from Him.

Oftentimes, we can understand one Scripture by cross-referencing another, related passage. In this case, Isaiah 55:1 provides us the insight we need: “The Lord says, ‘All you who are thirsty, come and drink. Those of you who do not have money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost (NCV, bold emphasis mine).

Under the terms of this world’s economy, a purchase is an exchange of merchandise or services for money. The economy of the Kingdom of Heaven works in an entirely different way. God does not mean that we are to put an order in for celestial goods that we must pay Him for. No; rather, He is inviting us into a different kind of exchange. We surrender to Him our poverty, and He gives us riches. We surrender to Him our nakedness, and He clothes us lavishly. We surrender to Him our blindness, and He bestows on us eyes that can see. His eternal nature means that He has infinite resources at His disposal. He delights to lavish them all on us, all at His own expense!

So, reflecting His openhanded, bighearted, munificent generosity, this passage continues: “Why spend your money on something that is not real food? Why work for something that doesn't really satisfy you? Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good; your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies. Come to me and listen; listen to me so you may live” (vv. 2-3).

Daddy wants us to lean into Him and listen for what will really make us come alive. As we do so, He invites us to surrender our shortages and deficiencies to Him, that in exchange, He may provide abundantly for the needs of our spirits.

What, then, are the three aspects of lack that He is pointing to in His letter to the Laodicean church? What do each of them mean?

Purified Gold

“So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich.” (Rev. 3:18, NLT).

Tragically, there are Christians who take laps around the same spiritual desert for forty years. They never cross over into the fullness, the milk and honey, the spiritual riches, that God longs to bring them into. This is because they have decided to just “make do.” They have allowed passivity and inertia to take over their lives.

Many times we, too, are like the Laodiceans. We tell ourselves that we are “just fine” and settle for the status quo of our physical comfort. We’ve got our Netflix and our couch and our smartphone and our pizza. What else could we need? Jesus kindly but firmly looks into our eyes and tells us that we are poor. He has wealth for us that we have not even begun to imagine, if we would allow Him to light a fire in our spirits for the pursuit of His presence.

Gold that has been purified in the fire represents faith. When we go through adversity and cling to God for the duration, He goes to work deep in the core of us, strengthening our character and our trust in Him. “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7, NLT).

Adversity is inevitable in this life. On the one hand, it is entirely possible to survive hardship and only become hardened, bitter, and cynical as a result. On the other, adversity can instead become a tool that brings forth gold, if we remain in a posture of surrender to the Lord – and keep Him as the central passion of our existence. If we decide to truly yield to the purifying process that God desires to orchestrate in our lives, the end result will be stunning.

Job, of all people, understood this vital principle. This utterance burst from his soul in the midst of wracking pain: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, NIV).

Real faith, purified faith, seasoned faith, strengthened faith, is immeasurably more precious than gold. Jesus offers this to us today. “Buy gold from Me. Give up your poverty and submit yourself to My brilliant, beautiful, sanctifying work in the depths of your heart. Are you tired of just making do with physical comfort while your spirit languishes? Are you weary of the same monotonous lap in the wilderness over and over? Come after Me with all that you are! I have such magnificent, masterfully laid plans for you as we walk hand in hand together through this life! Buy gold from Me. Then you will be rich!”

White Garments 

“Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness...” (Rev. 3:18, NLT).

The second Laodicean issue Jesus addressed was nakedness. Have you ever had a dream where you found yourself in public and suddenly realized your clothes were gone? How did that feel? Pretty awful, right?

That’s what this passage is about. Being naked and ashamed is symbolic of feeling exposed, vulnerable and full of shame – specifically here, about our sins. Daddy has a breathtaking provision to offer us for this heartbreaking problem. The white garments in this Scripture represent the lavish gift of righteousness with which He covers our spiritual nakedness.

When Jesus says that He covers our moral failures, this does not mean that He is concealing them or pretending they are not there. Quite the contrary; it means He is forgiving them and washing them completely away. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Ps. 32:1, RSV). See the parallelism there? Covered sin is forgiven sin. He no longer counts it against you! The Lamb of God has taken away your sins. He has erased them for all of eternity.

White garments. Think on that. Biblically, the color white represents holiness. The blood of Jesus purifies us through and through from the stains of our transgressions. He cleanses us so thoroughly that He leaves our spirits dazzingly clean… as blindingly white as freshly fallen snow lit up by the rays of the noonday sun (Is. 1:18).

“He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isa. 61:10, NKJV). Jesus has ornate, sumptuous garments of salvation with which to array us. Under the luxurious covering of His imputed righteousness, we become confident and secure.

These, too, Jesus holds forth to us in this moment. “Buy white garments from Me,” He says, His voice thick with longing for our freedom. “Draw near to Me and allow Me to cover you, to clothe you. Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow. When I wrap you with these extravagant, radiant, glorious robes, your shame will be gone forever!”

Eye Salve/Ointment 

“I counsel you to buy from me… salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (Rev. 3:18, ESV).

Here we have the third and final commodity King Jesus is offering to “sell” to us, without money and without cost. Just as He longs to lavish us with golden faith to replace our poverty, and magnificent white robes to cover our shame, He also deeply desires to transform our blindness into spiritual sight.

I have a dear friend who suffered tragic vision loss as a result of a terrible accident at work. He still has his peripheral fields of sight, but his central vision is completely gone. I have been so struck by his ability to navigate physically in spite of his handicap. Oftentimes, we are like that spiritually. We are missing major pieces of our vision, and have learned to push through life and survive without them.

Someone once sent me a video of a baby boy receiving some very needed glasses. He had severe vision issues and hadn’t really been able to see his mother before that moment. The way his face lights up in innocent, unabashed joy when he sets eyes on her for the first time… words just don’t do it justice. I laughed and teared up and replayed it I don’t know how many times.

Screengrab Via YouTube

That’s what Daddy wants for us. No parent has ever gazed with such tenderness on their child as He does on us. He yearns for us to be able to truly perceive the oceans of love in His eyes as He looks into our faces.  It hurts His heart when we miss out on the unspeakable riches that come when the eyes of our heart can truly see Him.

This is where my dream comes in. My dream self had a serious vision problem and needed restoration. How did God choose to provide the needed healing? By completely wrapping me up in His love. His love was so powerful, so overwhelming, that it literally swept me off my feet. It overcame me. When He finished His indescribably profound work, I could see again.

This is how He heals our spiritual eyes; by enveloping us in His love. Our verse from Revelation uses the word “anoint.” That is exactly what He does for us. He imparts His anointing to our eyes. He transmits restoration to them through the raw power of His devotion. Eye salve is anointing. It’s the revelation of His love.

When does He apply this salve to our eyes? The answer lies in the same passage, two verses later: “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me” (v. 20, TLB).

We receive healing for the eyes of our heart when we open the door to Jesus. All day long, every day, He woos us. He knocks. He yearns. He initiates. He pursues. He invites. When the moment comes that we open to Him, He comes in. He wraps us up in His arms, and indescribably rich, profound, healing fellowship begins.

Today, lean into the passionate tones of His voice as He beckons to you, “Come, precious child, Heaven’s store is open! Trade in your poverty at My counter for wealth that truly satisfies. Trade in your emptiness for life that is truly life. Leave your sin and your shame here with Me and take home resplendent white robes! And, dear one, buy salve from Me. I long to heal your vision so you can look into My face. I want your eyes to drink in all the infinite depths of My love for you. Do you hear My heart calling to you? I yearn to envelope you in My embrace! Here I am, knocking!"

Will you open to Him?

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Then the King Will Say...

“Since Jesus knew what was going on, he said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me’” (Matt. 26:10, GWT).

As I read this passage a few days ago, Holy Spirit was bringing me into the story. I could feel Jesus’ inner being full of emotion as He received this woman’s ministry. He was only days away from His death. His awareness of its rapid approach is evident in the numerous remarks that kept flowing from His heart about the subject. Just eight verses earlier in the text, He had again announced to His disciples: “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (v. 2, NKJV).

Jesus was human. Humans have emotions. His soul could already perceive the weight of what He was about to endure. The bitterly cruel taste of the cup He was “about to drink” (Matt. 20:22) was already present on his tongue. His razor-sharp prophetic awareness allowed Him to keenly feel the nearness of His pending torturous death.

Under these conditions, He watches this earnest, beautiful sister come in. She is clutching in her hands her most valuable physical possession, an alabaster jar full of costly perfume. Easily worth a year’s wages, this vessel in many ways represents all her life’s dreams and longings. Having resolved to give Him the very most precious gift she could procure, she has already broken the seal. Her eyes fixed on His face, love spills from her countenance as she gently approaches Him. She is holding nothing back. She is steadfastly determined to pour out on Him the most generous expression of her love, that which will cost her everything.

He sees the passionate adoration burning in her eyes. The aroma of the perfume matches the beauty of her fragrant love; both fill and saturate the atmosphere, surrounding Him with the revelation of His belovedness. Her love, reaching out, is making intimate contact with His soul. She is meeting Him in the midst of the pain He is already beginning to bear. This palpable demonstration of her unbridled devotion is alleviating the heaviness of the weight pressing on His emotions. Her worship enters into the core of Him and brings Him intensely profound comfort. She is ministering to the very depths of Him.

Overwhelmed by her expression, He cannot hold back His gratitude. He exclaims, “In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial!” (v. 12, ESV). She has not only prepared His body; she has also helped prepare His soul. Her love has imparted tangible relief and strength to Him. He continues, “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her!” (v. 13). So important, so essential, so vital is her role in this week leading up to His death, that the stunning beauty of what she did for Him must be announced all over the entire world!


Just two subheadings earlier in the book of Matthew, we find a flabbergasting revelation. You and I can likewise minister powerfully to Jesus, reaching His heart with the same degree of overwhelming intimacy, as this woman did.


“I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes; naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me… When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!” (Matt. 25:35-36, 40, TLB).

Days before His death, Jesus gazed into the future and saw this scene. He saw Himself seated on His throne in all of His majesty. And in the midst of all His glory, He saw Himself thanking us. He saw Himself pouring out His inexpressibly profound gratitude to us. He saw Himself expressing the depths of His heart about how we personally alleviated His pain.

Can you imagine the King of Kings on the throne as John the Revelator saw Him? “His eyes like a flame of fire… He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev. 1:14b, 16, NKJV). Jesus, revealed in the fullness of His infinite might, shining like the sun in all of its brilliance, looking at you in the eyes and expressing… vulnerability? “I was hungry, thirsty, naked. I was sick and alone, languishing in prison. I desperately needed someone to come.”

How is this possible?

In this expression of His heart we find the answer: “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa. 57:15, RSV, bold emphasis mine).

Jesus both inhabits the high and lofty position of His unspeakably magnificent throne… and dwells amidst the squalor of the most forsaken squatter populations of the earth. Both. He is magnified and lifted up, exalted with the Name that is above every other name… and He is in prison. He fills all of eternity with His measureless, omnipotent glory… and He is here with us, struggling in our pain.

There is affliction all around us. Our existence intersects with the lives of broken people, hurting from the consequences of the fall of man. No doubt, you yourself reading this post, have your own share of heartache that you have either walked through in the past or are currently enduring.

Jesus is in all of it. When His physical body ascended into heaven, His Spirit came to inhabit earth. The Holy Spirit is both His own distinct Person, and He is Jesus. He is the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus really meant it when He said He would be with us always, even to the end of the age. To be with us, He has to be here. He is here.

Jesus is fully, intimately present with us. His emotions are wrapped up in our human experience. As a result, He is hungry. He is thirsty. He is wandering around impoverished barrios in soiled rags. There are open sores on His skin and His stomach is bloated. Flies buzz unceasingly around His unhealed rash. He is sleeping on cardboard on the sidewalk, huddled in a foul-smelling blanket. He is incarcerated, longing for someone to care.

The woman with the alabaster jar touched Jesus’ very core with her love. So can you. For you see, wherever someone is suffering, He is there. When you look into their eyes, if you pay close attention, you will see Him looking back at you. He is right there next to you in line at the grocery store. He is standing behind that cash register. He is bringing you your food at the restaurant. He is walking down the sidewalk in front of your house. He is living next door.

He doesn’t expect you to save the world. But He is asking if you will reach out and relieve His pain? When you show that one kindness, you are alleviating His aching. When you bless that one with a warm touch and a genuine smile, tangible comfort reaches into His very soul. When you sacrifice your comfort and give of what is most precious to you, in order to enter into the world of “the least of these,” He is inexpressibly grateful. These are His “brothers.” These are the precious ones that He loves more than His life.

We began this conversation describing the worshiping woman with a jar of expensive perfume in Matthew 26. Her identity remains undisclosed. In spite of Jesus’ determination to make her breathtaking act of love known throughout the entire world, He does not tell us her name. I believe this is because He is inviting us to be her. To fill in our own name in the blank. Today, He is beckoning to you. He is earnestly asking you to personally minister to the very depths of His heart.

How will you respond?

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