Caught Up to Heaven [A SERIES]

PART ONE – PAUL’S EXPERIENCE

[1]  I must go on boasting.  Although there is nothing to be gained.  I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.

[2]  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  Whether it was in the body or out of the body, I do not know–God knows.

[3]  And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows– [4] was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

[5]  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

[6]  Even if I should choose to boast, I could not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do, or say…

[The New International Version Bible (NIV)]

What Paul says in verse 1, he is forced to say so that the Corinthian church members might look at him from God’s perspective.

Paul’s restraint increases as he discloses what was probably the most intimate and sacred of all his Christian experiences.  Paul repeats that he is speaking of himself only because circumstances have compelled him to do so.

What Does the Bible Tell Us About the Experience of Death and About What Happens Next?  [2 Cor. 12:2-4]

“The Journey to Paradise” – Revelations, and Visions:

Revelations are apocalypses, literally “to remove the cover, to unveil.”  It’s the unveiling of something hidden which gives light and knowledge to those who see it (Eph. 3:3; Rom. 16:25).  

Revelations are more general than visions.  You might have revelations without having visions but one never has visions without revelations.

Visions, dreams, and trances are hard to distinguish.  A vision comes to one in an ecstatic state (Isa. 1:1; Ezek. 12:27) and brings revelation knowledge.  The experience points to a special awareness of God concerning what He is doing or going to do.

Several years ago I was asked by a local pastor if I could write a play for the upcoming Resurrection Sunday.  I was given two months to put everything together.  And by the way…I’ve never done anything like this before.  So lacking confidence, not knowing where this was going, I began to pray for guidance.  NOTHING!

Then, perhaps out of desperation and lack of faith, I found myself lying face down on the carpet pleading for God to give me inspiration.  And then I heard in my spirit, “Mel, get up from the floor, and wait.”  “Wait?  I have a month to put this all together, Lord!”  His response was “Just wait”.

That night in my sleep, I felt a nudge to my shoulder and thinking that I was dreaming, rolled over to the other side.  Again a nudge, but harder this time.  As I sat up on the edge of the bed, the voice returned:  “Mel, get up and go to the dining room table.  Get a pen and a paper tablet and I will give instructions on what I want you to accomplish.”  This was at 5:30 AM.  Was I still dreaming, is this really happening?  I got up and followed His guidance and instructions and at 7 AM the outline was finished.  The storyline, the set design, the title….everything but a script!  Yes, God even took care of that.  Was this a dream, a vision, a revelation?  All I do know is, the experience showed me what He was doing and going to do!

Background To The Text [2 Corinthians 12] –

Most Bible scholars believe Paul had a near-death experience.  Paul mentions that at least on one occasion he was left for dead.  As he writes he speaks of this experience and says some guy he knew had it.  Writing about something that happened to an author and inventing a second person to deliver a message is common literary practice.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12 speaks from experience that there are events that follow our physical death.  The burden of this conversation prepares us, not for death, but for the events that take place between our dying and our final destination.

Caught Up To Heaven (verses 2-4).

One vision which Paul recounts stands out from the rest in its extraordinary character.  His ecstatic episode which he was transported to Paradise began in VERSE 2.

Paul is sure his remarkable experience occurred but uncertain whether the “caught up” [RAPTURE] experience was in the body or out of the body.

BODY RAPTURE is not regarded as impossible.  TWO instances are recorded in the Old Testament, Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5) and Elijah (1 Kings 2:11; Mk. 9:4) and in the New Testament, Jesus was bodily raptured into heaven.

At any rate, such a one was caught up (Gk. harpazo, “to snatch away”).  “Caught up” is a form of the Greek word harpazog, the same word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which in reference to the RAPTURE of the Church.

Paul was “raptured” to the third heaven.

The Third Heaven

The third heaven designates a place beyond the immediate heaven of the earth’s atmosphere of clouds and beyond; the further heaven of outer space and its galaxies and into the presence of God Himself.  (Heb. 4:14, 7:26; Eph. 4:10)

The FIRST HEAVEN is atmospheric, the SECOND HEAVEN is composed of the stellar universe, and the THIRD HEAVEN is the unique dwelling place of God–a different dimension.

In VERSE 3, Paul again clarifies his mystifying experience to his readers.  He’s uncertain if he was in a bodily or disembodied state.  Whether his soul was separated from the body for a time and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he wasn’t sure.

[3] “And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows–“

VERSE 4 teaches us that human words are inadequate to tell us about heaven.

[4] “was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things that no one is permitted to tell”

If the THIRD HEAVEN describes the place of his rapture, then Paradise specifies the wonder of his rapture.  [The third heaven of v. 2 and the Paradise of v.4 are one and the same.]

Paradise is a Persian word for an enclosed park, garden or pleasure ground used only three times in the New Testament.  In Luke 23:43 with the thief on the Cross, and in Revelation 2:7.  In the Old Testament, this term is used in Genesis as the Garden or Paradise or Eden.

I believe Paul witnessed the state of the spirit-souls of the redeemed who had died are “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8), but still in a “celestial body” so we won’t feel naked until the day when we are covered with the glorified and incorruptible resurrection body (2 Cor. 5:1-3. 1 Cor. 15:42, Phil. 3:20-21).  Then the REDEEMED of the Lord will shine forth with full splendor of eternal Christ-likeness.

Paul heard unspeakable (“inexpressible”) words.

Unspeakable word is an oxymoron, speaking which may not be spoken, for even in the heavenly state it is beyond words.

Human language is too inadequate to describe things that transcend all knowledge and understanding.

We often speak about Paradise trying to describe its state and heaven to define its features and whereabouts, but the truth is that we are stepping over the threshold into another dimension, a reality not of this world, infinite, spiritual and only distantly sensed by us in our earthly tent.  And yet as born-again believers in Christ, we know with assurance that one day we’ll be at our permanent home.

The Scriptures will occasionally part the mists of our earthly existence and grant us brief glimpses of the GLORY yet to be revealed.  (2 Cor. 5:11-12, 1 Corinthians 15:50; Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 1:21. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:8.)

From Paul’s experiences, we are granted a view of the indescribable GLORY that lies ahead and thereby secured him to patiently endure all the severe suffering in his ministry.  He thus knows that the sufferings of this present age were not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come (Rom. 8:18; 2 Tim. 4:18).

Someday we will arrive in heaven realizing that everything we see and experience is new and indescribable in earthly vocabulary.  I’m so thankful that God used illustrations that we could understand that gives us just a glimpse of eternity.

CURRENT EVIDENCE (verses 5-6)

Paul could have boasted, as his rivals do, of impressive religious credentials, experience, and achievements, but he doesn’t.  Instead, he speaks only of his weaknesses.

[5] “Of this same [man’s experiences] I will boast, but of myself (personally) I will not boast, except as regards my infirmities (my weaknesses)”  [AMP}

Paul’s weaknesses, trials, and tribulations he went through for Christ’s sake, that had left him broken of body, mind, emotion, and spirit.  For these areas became the very places where God could do His greatest work in and then through Paul.

Paul wouldn’t be like his opponents who glorified in their earthly state or pride.  For God alone is due to all the glory!

Though boasting includes many lies, in verse 6 Paul affirms his trustfulness.

[6] “Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say”  [NIV]

Although all of Paul’s boasts were true and about true occurrences, not to mention all the other reasons he could boast, he didn’t dwell on those things.

And the reasons why?

Others might think too highly of him.  He didn’t want to be judged by the past, or what he said about himself, but that men should judge him by what they presently heard and saw.

[NOTE:  I will continue this study, being CAUGHT UP, with Part Two in the Series – The Leading Up To Our Final Destination.]

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CREDITS:

Dictionary:  VINE’S Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New King James Version (NKJV); or as noted.

 

 

 

Praying Responsibly

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A Study in 1 Kings 3:3-14 –

“ASK ANYTHING IN MY NAME, AND I WILL DO IT” (John 14:13,14) –

A young man, taking this Scripture in the Gospel of John quite seriously and quite literally, said he was still waiting for the LORD to supply his request for a new Vette.  That’s a super sports car, for those who are not familiar with this car term.

A new Vette, and LORD, while I’m asking, I need a sunroof, and racing stripes, and the spoked wheels too!

You talk about PRAYING with specifics!  Some people do it up in a big way.

Now this young man was really only half serious about this petition of his; he does know the LORD isn’t bound to answer SELF-INDULGENCE.  He’s aware that God doesn’t provide us with expensive toys just to help us along with the Sin of Pride. Most of us don’t need any help in that category.

This man is also quite clear that there are other dimensions of the Bible verse,

“So that the FATHER may be glorified in the Son”

Thus his request, his PRAYER, is not up to par because there isn’t much of any room for the FATHER to get the glory.  The GLORY is all going to the car and the driver.

SELFISH URGES –

There are, after all, in the best of us, in the most Christian of us, some Selfish Urges.  Some things we want to have and some things we want to do, no matter what!

That might not be spiritual, but it’s real.

And so when it comes down to what we PRAY FOR, what the DESIRES of our hearts really are, it seems to be somewhat of a mixture.  It seems some of the things I find myself praying for, I might want, but maybe I shouldn’t have.  So what do I pray for?  What should I pray for?  What are the right things to pray for?

Thirty Centuries Ago… 

A young man was facing the same kind of choices with a whole candy store full of possibilities.

  • WEALTH in tremendous quantities.
  • POWER beyond what most of us can ever dream of.
  • RECOGNITION, RESPECT, ADULATION, he could have had it all!

And in fact it seemed, if you looked at one side of the records book…he was well on his way.

HEIR to the family fortune, named by his father as his successor, backed by some of the finest families of the nation, shoved ahead by an ambitious mother; about all he lacked, a degree from the Jerusalem School of Business.

Solomon had ALL THE GOODIES in the world, right there for the taking.

Life Wasn’t All A Bowl of Cherries.

Solomon had a half-brother out there drumming up rebellion against him.  There were old wounds left unhealed from his father’s days, for David had not yet settled all the scores or finished all the battles before he died.

More than that, there was the defiant, the disobedient, the disenchanted in the kingdom.  How was Solomon going to reign and reign effectively?

There was definitely serious problems of management, of loyalty, of governing.

Where to go and what to do?  What to PRAY FOR?

What do you say to the LORD?  Is it, “Let’s go for the snazzy sports car”, or is it something like, “Destroy my enemies, put down those who are against me”?

Or is it something else?

I think you know the story.  Solomon opted for something else to pray for.

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Not RICHES, nor FAME, nor CRUSHING of the OPPOSITION…

But something else–WISDOM.

Solomon PRAYED first for Wisdom, then for Understanding and for Discernment.

WISDOM, the power to know what to do with your knowledge, your resources, your energies.

“MORE IS BETTER”

I sometimes really get a kick out of watching television commercials with kids in them.  Children seem so honest in their desires and answers to the questions asked about the “why’s”.

The AT&T Commercial of an adult sitting on the floor with school children illustrates one point of Praying Responsibly.

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The conversation sort of went like this:

“More is better than less because if there’s more stuff, then you might want to have some more…” [Credit to iSpot.tv].

So MORE means not more resources, energy or time in our lives, but the WISDOM to use what you have already.

One of the Issues in Praying for Wisdom –

We so often, like Solomon, wait so late to do it.  We wait until we have tried everything else with our hands and we’ve blown it–and then, out of desperation, we ask for the LORD’S GIFT of Wisdom.  Our sense of timing is all off and so it was with Solomon.

In the first two chapters of 1 Kings, we can read and recognize, how like Solomon we are, trying everything to manage our own problems, even desperate measures, before we get down enough and strung out enough to PRAY FOR WISDOM & GUIDANCE.

When all’s said and done, the bottom line is… a young king who is still desperate, still unhappy, and still insecure.  He has done everything humanly possible to do in securing his kingdom, but he is not yet secure.

ROYAL MACHOISM just isn’t getting it done!

And Now, Solomon Turns to PRAYER for WISDOM –

lord-how-can-i-13-638

LORD, I’ve tried all I know to do, the people still aren’t behind me, the thing isn’t coming together, all my hard work and efforts and all my struggling; it just won’t do.  I have to have YOUR WISDOM!

PRAYING REASONABLY –

I noticed in my reading in 1 Kings 3, when Solomon did pray for WISDOM, it wasn’t just a PRAYER for relief from all his troubles.  No, his PRAYER was a Responsible Prayer; his PRAYER ASKED FOR WISDOM to help him deal responsibly with his tasks at hand (VERSE 9):

“So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good bad.  For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people?”

To Govern and Discern…

You and I might well be tempted to PRAY,

“LORD, just take it all away; who needs this kingdom business?

What a headache.

Take it all away!”

 But Solomon’s PRAYER is responsible prayer.

Although Solomon must have finally come to a point of desperation after trying and trying to manage his kingdom, and nothing was working as well as it should, but now I’d say he exercises creative desperation.

He PRAYS for Wisdom, being aware that he cannot expect God to lift the burden entirely, but that he can EXPECT help and guidance, insight and discernment:

 “I cannot do it all, so I turn it over to You LORD.”

“MORE, IS BETTER!”

Solomon now takes a step further; he has moved along another notch into spiritual maturity.  Now his PRAYER IS,  “Give me what I need in order to keep on doing what I must do.”  Give me help; but I don’t shirk my responsibility.  I do not surrender, but I PRAY for WISDOM!

Finally, I wouldn’t want to forget that the GLORY of it all when we Pray for Wisdom, we get that and MORE!

We get better than we even ask for!

When we pray responsibly, even when it seems rather late in the day, our God is pleased and gives us not only that WISDOM, but a good deal MORE!

1 Kings 3:10-13 (NIV bible):

[10] The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this (WISDOM).  [11] So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,  [12] I will do what you have asked.  I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.  [13] Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for–both riches and honor–so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.

PRAY FOR WISDOM IF…you would PRAY for the right things, and then EXPECT God’s Gifts in abundance!

An unknown, unnamed soldier during the terrible days of the American Civil War, left behind a most eloquent testimony to this truth –

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 [See Footnote [i] for Prayers from the Confederacy – A Christian Confederate Soldier’s Prayer]


CREDITS:

Footnote [i] –  See www.historyaddict.com/CSPrayer.html

Photos:  Google Image Search. 

Bible References:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

Beholding the SHEKINAH GLORY

God's  GLORY Revealed
God’s GLORY Revealed

Seeing JESUS–experiencing His presence, becomes very important during the Christmas Season–in our gift buying, house decorating. cookie making, house straightening, church activities, etc…  But how about God’s GLORY, His manifested presence everyday?  Do I really want a spiritual change, a GLORY ATTITUDE in all that I do?

The Attitude of Change During the Christmas Season–

BUT…we are not changed by what we do, but by what we see.  Evidently not many of us have seen Him, because there’s something that certainly happens when you are changed from one degree of GLORY to another.

Something dramatic happens when we come in contact with the King of kings, Lord of lords, the real living JESUS.  The word “CHANGE” lets me know there’s something better to be had or there’s no need for a change.

OUR “first birth”…

At Christmas, believers reflect on the birth of Jesus in the manger.  But do we reflect on our “first birth?”

“Among these we as well as you [I’ll insert my own personal name–“MEL” for the word “you”] once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh  [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings].   We were the by nature children of  [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind”  (Ephesians 2:3 AMP).

Wow, that really sounds harsh in the reading:  “Totally depraved, dead in trespasses and sin.”

The NATURE we received at our natural birth, the NATURE of father Adam, is corrupt, unable to do a thing to please God.  In order for this to CHANGE, there must be a NEW BIRTH–John 3:6-7:

“What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not  [do not be surprised, astonished] at My telling you,  You must all be born anew (from above).”

THE “NEW BIRTH”…

Our new spiritual birth

 

The “NEW BIRTH” is not a “rebirth.”  The TWO are totally distinct and separate and always will be.

It’s hard to understand the fact, even after we have been “BORN AGAIN”, there’s the deception of the FLESH remains in the believer.  He doesn’t do away with the “old man” but now there are TWO NATURES within me.

The apostle Paul confirmed this in Romans 7:14-17:

[14] We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of the flesh  [carnal, unspiritual], having been sold into slavery under [the control of] sin.

[15] For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered].  I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns].

[16] Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire,  [that means that]  I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and I take sides with it.

[17] However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.

WE ARE NO MORE OF THIS WORLD WHEN….

When… we RECEIVE Christ Jesus.  But the FLESH is still with us and must be dealt with.

In my own life, there has not been one single spiritual experience; but a series of burials and succession of funerals.  About the time I think I have the OLD MAN buried, he seems to have the ability to RESURRECT! – “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”

GOD CALLED MOSES – Exodus 24:12-18:

In EXODUS 24 is where an invitation is given to Moses; calling him up into the mountain (Mt. Sinai) for orientation to teach the LAW.

“There they saw the God of Israel.  Under His feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself” – Exodus 24:10 (NLT).

“And the GLORY of the Lord settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days.  On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from inside the cloud.  To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the GLORY of the LORD appeared at the summit like a consuming fire” – Exodus 24:16, 17 (NLT).

MOSES is taken closer while others remain at a distance.  MOSES is instructed on Sinai for 40 days and nights.

Preparation Before Entering God’s Presence…

MOSES prepared himself carefully…before he left the people, he repeated God’s instructions to the people who were all too ready to agree and obey.

But WE are NOT sustained, held up by PROMISES of obedience we make but by His grace.  That at first glance may seem to be hard to grasp.

MOSES MADE SACRIFICES…

In a different light from the OT, Hebrews 13 in the NT, refers to a SACRIFICE the believers are to offer constantly and at all times:

“Through Him (Jesus), therefore let us

constantly and at all times offer up

to God a SACRIFICE of praise,

which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and

confess and glorify His name.”

(Hebrews 13:15 AMP)

MOSES made sacrifices because…you and I should make sacrifices because… you don’t approach a holy God without acknowledging His holiness and our sinfulness–FLESH.

Exodus 24:4-8:  The 12 Pillars and the Sprinkled Blood

[4] Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.  He rose up early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve pillars representing Israel’s twelve tribes.

[8]  And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said,  Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.

Our PRAYER should begin before every Sunday AM, “Lord, on this Sunday’s worship and praise, bring to my mind anything that stands between me and You so that I can confess it with my lips to You–acknowledge the forgiveness You have given me through the blood sacrifice of the Cross.”  

And YES, there is still plenty of time for fellowship AFTER…the morning services.

APPROACHING CLOSER TO GOD ON THE MOUNTAIN–

As the people approached closer, they see Him without being zapped out of existence.

–  The people remained at a distance.

–  Moses, Joshua, Nadab, Abihu, Aaron and 70 elders (Exodus 24:9-10) went further up the mountain.

–  The Moses and Joshua went up even further!

–  Then only Moses went into the cloud of God’s presence!!

GOD invites us to draw near to Him right now! As close as you choose to go.

God won’t direct your steps, your path to glory, unless you get up and start moving.

“Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are]  sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].    [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over disloyalty].  Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins].    Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]”  (James 4:8-10 AMP).

The Time is Now to Change If We Are to See His Glory…

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.”  ~ Bob Proctor

“Show me Your Glory” (Exodus 33:18).

We’ve all witnessed someone going forward in church, kneeling and praying for a CHANGE of direction; really feeling like ones had touched God in a moment of praise.  Only to get up and go right back into the same sinful lifestyle they had been praying about.  They had not been CHANGED.

When Moses was granted his request to see GOD’S GLORY and the change that took place, God shielded him from the strongest part–HIS GLORY, HIS MANIFEST PRESENCE:

Cleft in the ROCK
Cleft in the ROCK

“And while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.  Then I will take away My hand and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen”  (Exodus 33:22-23).

By putting His hand in front of the place Moses stood, all he saw was the afterglow of His glory and change took place.

GOD tells His church the same as He spoke to Moses:  “You shall stand upon the rock”  (33:21).  

“…and the Rock was Christ”  (1 Corinthians 10:4 (b).)

MOSES was so changed to the point that his face had such a GLOW he had to wear a Veil (Ex. 34:29).

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him as He is”  (1 John 3:2 NIV).

The AMPLIFIED BIBLE says it this way: “when He comes and is manifested…”  We will see His GLORY! 

So How Close to God Would You Like to Get?

If we are wanting the CHANGE to take place in our lives, we’re going to have to go beyond just being in His presence.

“THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION” –  (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2):

We’ve found in looking at the OT, a CLOUD that was the visible token of God’s presence; He came down upon Mt. Sinai in a thick cloud; But we are now come, not to the MOUNT covered with thick blackness and darkness, but to the MOUNT covered with a bright cloud (Matthew 17:5).

Both the OT and the NT had tokens of God’s presence; but that was a DISPENSATION of darkness, and terror, and bondage of the Old Testament.  This CLOUD was intended to break the force of that great light (GLORY) that would have overcome the disciples, and have been intolerable; It was like the VEIL which Moses put upon his face when it shone

There came a VOICE out of the cloud…

This was the VOICE of God, who now, as of old, spake in the cloudy pillar (Psalm 99:7; Matthew 17:5).

There was no thunder, or lightning, or voice of a trumpet, as there was when the Law was given to Moses, but only a VOICE–a still small voice.  

Not ushered in with a strong wind, or an earthquake, or fire, as when God spake to Elijah.  Moses then and Elijah were witnesses that in these LAST DAYS…God will speak to us by His Son in a different way.  This VOICE came from the SPLENDID, EXCELLENT, MAJESTIC GLORY:

“For when He (Jesus) was invested with honor and glory from God the Father and a voice was borne to Him by the [splendid] Majestic Glory [in the bright cloud that overshadowed Him, saying],  This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased and delight”  (2 Peter 1:17 AMP).

Although Jehovah showed Himself to Moses in some peculiar form of manifestation, He never appeared in His own essential GLORY, but only in such a form human weakness could stand (2 Corinthians 3:16).

Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the VEIL is taken away:

“And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the GORY of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for the comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit”             (2 Corinthians 3:18 AMP).  *[Note: I capitalized the word GLORY for emphasis.]

So if you are wanting a change to take place in your life–a real presence of Christ and not a pretend presence, it’s evident that you (we) are going to have to go beyond just being in His presence at the foot of the mountain.

A DESIRE that Begins at the Foot of the Mountain

With a desire to prepare, and to know, when you ask to enter God’s GLORY, you will reflect on Moses’ experience on top of the mountain:

“And when the LORD saw that he (Moses) turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses!  And he said, Here am I”  (Exodus 3:4).

Is this your answer on during the  Christmas Season and beyond?  “Here am I.”

AND God said,

“Do not come near; put your shoes off your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground”  (verse 5).

ASKING YOURSELF THE QUESTIONS:  “Here I am Lord. What’s Next?”

“Am I tired of stale bread crumbs on the church floor as I enter into worship and praise on Sunday mornings?” 

“Am I content, comfortable, satisfied at the base of the mountain, or do I want to prepare myself for the climb to the top?”


Credits:

Bible Translations:  New Living Translation (NLT); The AMPLIFIED Bible (AMP).

Photos:  Photo Pin

“Latter Rains” Are Great! But A Flood?

A Southern California Lifestyle…

Living in California for over 38 years, one of my pleasures during the year was taking road trips to the desert--Borrego Hot Springs State Park.

Borrego Hot Springs After The RAINS
Borrego Hot Springs After The RAINS

My folks liked to go right after the winter rains, when the desert was in full, or almost in full of  cactus bloom.

And our going always depended on the RAIN.  No rain, no desert floor flowers!   On the 1st of March, without latter winter rains in any given year, my plea, my cry, was always… “LET IT RAIN!”

“LATTER RAINS” – [See Footnotes – [i] ]

RAIN in the Middle East varies greatly from thirty inches per year in the hill country of Palestine-Syria, to zero to four inches in the southern part of Palestine, the modern Negev Sinai peninsula and Egypt and in the desert area east of the Jordan Rift, south of Syria.

THE HEAVY RAINS come in late November to early March.  Before and after this period come usually lighter rains.  The former coming in October-November and the LATTER RAINS–March-April.

The Absence of Rain in the Bible…

Lack of RAIN always produced famine in a country so completely dependant upon it and its withholding by GOD was terrible punishment (Deuteronomy 28:22-24).

Could the ABSENCE OF RAIN in many areas of our own country be more than just “Global Warming”?  What can we do, if anything?

Crying Out in Fervent, Earnest, Prayer for God to Open the FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN!

“The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send RAIN on your land in season and to bless all the works of your hands”  (Deuteronomy 28 :12 NIV).

In PREPARATION for God’s Glory…

Every Sunday morning before leaving the house for worship and praise in the fellowship, I put a CD in the player of worship and praise music.  It sets a spiritual tone for me while doing my everyday morning activities [Walk & Feed the dog, put the coffee on, check the computer for messages, etc.].

A Plea from God…

Last Sunday was no exception; but with a twist.   My wife decided to change things up a little by picking out something  to hear from the past.  If you haven’t guessed already, her chosen CD was recorded by Michael W. Smith – See Footnote [ii].

We want to see Your Glory, God!

Do you want to see His Glory?

Lift your voices, lift your hands!

Let it rain, let it rain.

Open the floodgates of Heaven.

[Repeat]

Do we really want to see a FLOOD of  God’s GLORY–for Him to send a Spiritual Rain onto this world in which we live?

OPEN THE "FLOODGATES"
OPEN THE “FLOODGATES”

“The effective prayer [the earnest–heartfelt, continued-AMP] of a righteous man can accomplish much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on earth for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:16-18 NAS).

WHAT IS “GLORY” ?

Religious people very often have a vocabulary that is intermingled in society that has meaning to some, but little understanding by most.  So at this point in my blog, I decided to go to some old notes I’ve kept from a spiritual mentor of mine.  Dr. Creflo A. Dollar:  [See Footnotes [iii]] 

THE GLORY OF GOD is simply the manifestation of His Word.  It is the thing you have desired, confessed and prayed.

THE GLORY is like a fruit tree that originated from a SEED.  Ex.: When you plant an apple seed, the “glory” of that apple tree is the apple.

THE WORD OF GOD is a seed that, when planted in your heart [soul and spirit] will produce visible results, or GLORY in your life.

** [I hope this might give you something to think about while reading the rest of my investigation].

Natural Rains provide…

RAIN brings satisfaction of quenching of thirst for plants and animals.  It’s a necessity for life to exist on earth.  When the rain comes to a desert, it gives life in that desert; an opportunity provided to quench their thirst by the life-giving water in a dry and barren land and…the GLORY is revealed.

Spiritual Rain provides…

We know the importance of the natural RAIN.

Now living in the American Northwest, the State of Washington, I’m very familiar of the importance of the rain.  Washington wouldn’t have the nickname, The Evergreen State, if not for the natural rain.  I’ve  certainly have become aware of the effects on the life of a resident.  “It is what it is!”

GOD’S SPIRITUAL RAIN:

The rains of heaven promise to quench our thirst if we drink them in.  When we drink from the RAIN of Heaven, we quench our thirst for that missing spiritual water.

The Rain of Heaven, when its being poured out, softens the soil of individuals hearts, so they are moldable to have the ability to plant seeds of eternal life in their lives.

The RAIN helps prepare the soil, but it also is instrumental in getting SEEDS to bud; break open with new life.  Moisture and the sun help this process to blossom and it births new life starting the process of growth and eventually the fruit–THE GLORY.

Cry of the Heart…

In this weeks investigation of the WORD DETECTIVE, I ran across the poem from one person:  [See Footnote iv]

Let it Rain!

Rainbow visions, reflected, refractive…

As I gaze out my window.

Bright skies, only a pane away.

Inside, only pain.

I wish it would rain, and was the iridescence from the streaked, and cracked glass that holds me prisoner.

Here inside my world, of self-induced pain…

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

DO YOU HEAR THE CRY OF THIS HEART?

“Here inside my world of self-induced pain, let it rain.”

She is crying out for the hurt to be washed away.  She wants to be cleansed and to be filled with joy.  She doesn’t want the HURT and PAIN.

LET IT RAIN!

The person here is crying for the type of rain that HEALS PAIN, BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, and the hurts of life.

GOD’S RAIN is able to accomplish this task!

The “Importance of GOD’S RAIN”:

1 Kings 18:41-46 (NIV):

THE RAINS COME!

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”  Do Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant.  And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”

Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.  The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

1.  The area is being cleansed with the HEAVY RAIN.

2.  The soil for plenty is being soften up.

3.  The RAIN comes–and there is refreshment in the air.

4.  There is NEW LIFE being produced.

5.  The old sinful way of drought is being swept away in the FLOOD of God’s rain (1 Kings Chapters 21-22).

The “Latter Rains”…

“So rejoice, O sons of Zion.  And be glad in the Lord your God.  For He has given you the early rain for your vindication and He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before”  (Joel 2:23 NAS).

The literal rains were symbolic of a greater truth.  They symbolized times of a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Different versions of the Bible differ in their translation of the phrase,  “He has given you the early rain for your vindication” (NAS).  This is because some Hebrew manuscripts use the words “moreh sedaqah” here, and others use “yoreh sedaqah.”

As I dug deeper, I discovered an interesting point.

“Yoreh” is the word for early rain.  While “Moreh” is the word for teacher.

So the phrase could be referencing to the “former rains”, or… referencing to the “teacher of righteousness–the Holy spirit.”

I don’t think there is unclearness presented here as an accident.  The symbolic meaning becomes even clearer in Joel Chapter 2:

[28] “And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

[29] Even upon the manservants and upon the maidservants in those days will I pour out My Spirit.

[30] And I will show signs and wonders in the heavens, and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.

[31] The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood BEFORE the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.  [Revelation 6:12-17].

[32] And whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered and saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the remnant [of survivors] shall be those whom the Lord calls.”

~Joel 2:28-32 Amplified Bible~

Crying Out in a Parched and Dry Land…

“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD…”

We are asking… the LORD to pour out His spirit on our lives.

We are praying…to the LORD to send His cleansing RAIN, His refreshing RAIN, His life-giving RAIN into our lives and the lives around us.

WE NEED THE RAIN!  A special outpouring of the Holy spirit.

I think we need more than a ‘light sprinkling‘ of God’s Spirit; more than a few “April Showers”–

It’s time for the FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN TO OPEN in our lives–

—  A cleansing touch of the Lord…all 

—  A refreshing touch of the spirit in our souls…

—  A preparation of our hearts and other hearts in planting of eternal seeds…

—  The birth of eternal seeds in our hearts…

—  The growth of the fruit of the Spirit…

—  The ability to experience Abundant New Life…

—  The blessing of having a fruitful life filled with JOY…

In OBEDIENCE to Our Lord and Savior, as Stewards of His Blessings, God Promises Us Even More:

See if I will not throw open the FLOODGATES of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”               (Malachi 3:10 b. NIV Bible).

Being Filled with JOY
Being Filled with JOY

Some of you who are reading all of this NEED it to RAIN in your personal lives.  Now is the time to CRY OUT…“LET IT RAIN GOD!”

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]  Young’s Bible Dictionary – G. Douglas Young, PhD Institute of Holy Land Studies, Jerusalem.  [ii] Study Notes from “The Word, The Blessing and The Glory” –  [iii] Michael W. Smith Lyrics with Writers: Carolyn Mitchell, Michael W. Smith, Deborah Smith – Copyright: Sony/ATV Milene Music, Peach Pie Music, WB Music Corp.  [iv] Copyright…Teresa Bess.

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Pin and… “Anza-Borrego Desert State Park” at http://desertusa.com/wildflo/ca.absap/html