Training the Planters

3478092302_6a4f72dc25_o Many of you may not know that my wife Mary and I plant organic churches. We have been doing this for the last 20+ years. It’s been full-time for the last five years. We have planted New Testament style organic churches throughout this country (U.S.) and in Australia. We are also working with others to help see new groups established in Europe and Africa.

Recently, we have entered a new phase of this work and that is the training of new future church planters.  This is very very exciting for us!  For the last five months, four others have been with us as we plant a church in Northern California.  This has been an incredible experience for all of us involved and we ALL are learning some very spiritual and practical lessons from this experience.

One of the desires of our hearts is to present these folks that we are training to you all, our readers.  You will definitely enjoy their writings as well.  They recently did their first podcast about them being trained and you can listen by going to this blog:

http://3rdrace.org/our-first-podcast/

Enjoy!!!

 

He Himself – Being and Seeing

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Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

Here, in the Lord’s prayer to the Father, Jesus reveals the very heart of God for his Church.  This is definitely the key to the Son’s glory, which was given to Him by the Father. First of all, we need to understand:

This glory is the goal of his prayer.

So, I think that we would do well to discover the essence of this “glory”.

What is the Glory of the Father and the Son?

If we look closely at this chapter of this gospel of John we will see some major points that are made throughout the prayer:

- mutual glorification (verse 1)
– authority (verse 2)
– eternal life (verse 2)
– knowing the Father and the Son (this is eternal life) (verse 3)
– accomplishing God’s work brings him glory (verse 4)
– glory is something that happens with the Father and the Son before creation (verse 5)
– God’s communication comes from the Father, through the Son to us (verse 8)
– everything is mutual within the Godhead (Trinity) (verse 10)
– the glory happens when there is oneness, which happens in the Name (verses 11-12)
– protection from the world and sending dependent upon oneness (verses 16-21)
– the glory has already been given to us for the oneness (verse 22)
– the oneness, which is based upon the love between the Father and Son, will be seen in the world (verse 23)

Now, we can combine these thoughts and get a birds-eye view of what God wants. There is a lot here, of course, but I am going to juice it down into one simple paragraph. (Tip – to see this more clearly, I suggest that you read John chapters 14-17 all the way through without stopping. This will give you a much clearer picture of God’s eternal purpose in Christ.)

The glory of God is the mutual fellowship (community life) that all three of the members of the Godhead share. This involves their mutual love, communication, attention, knowing one another, union, passion, dependency, giving and receiving, and much much more. All things within this community are mutual. They share all things, all content, all life, all love, all goals and vision, and all of the uniqueness that each one has. They share all things in common, you could say. Being three distinct Persons, they are completely one. This oneness of their life together is their glory. It is the source of their power, strength, and authority. Their goal is to share and express this glory with us! Yes, us, mere mortals! And the goal would include the expression (manifestation) of this incredible life to all realms; visible and invisible.

Wow!!!  What a goal!  What a purpose!  What a vision and dream!  Paul puts it this way:

“Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:25-27)

Do you see from this passage that the “mystery” is Christ in you, the hope of glory?

Do you also see from this passage the fact that Christ now lives in you (plural)?

This fact (reality) is the key to God getting what He wants.  He cannot have the expression of His Son without this LIFE of the community of God being in us and being lived out in us and from us.

Being and Seeing

So now we come to the critical part of this prayer of Jesus to the Father.  It’s the “how to” of him getting his glory revealed:

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

Being with Christ is the key to it all!  Without the being there will be no seeing of the glory!  Yes, that means being with and seeing He, Himself!  And yet, all this time we have thought it was all about our prayer life and our bible study and our witness, and our church attendance, and our devotion to God!

Wow! How could we have missed the main point?  Maybe because it is so simple and so basic that it actually insults our intelligence!  We have to somehow figure it all out and then we will have something to boast about.  But God has made it so simple.  He just wants us to BE with Him!

It may be simple but it’s certainly not easy in this hyper actively complex world we live in.  It’s not easy to simply get together with God and just BE with him.  There are many obstacles and distractions that get in the way.  It’s not easy to simply “be still and know that He is God” in a noisy and intrusive world system.  But notice with me that your Lord deliberately hides himself away to be with the Father.  He was very intentional about it.  He knew that He could do nothing apart from the Father (John 5:19) and therefore He needed to be with Him.  Do we realize this as well?

Where Do We Fellowship?

Isn’t it odd that Jesus prayed to the Father that his disciples would be with Me where I am?  Wasn’t he right there standing (and praying) in front of them?  Why would he pray that they would be where he is (present tense)?  Have you ever wondered this?

I believe it’s because even though Jesus was with them in the flesh and in the natural world, he was also in another place simultaneously.  That place was inside of the Father!  I mean that quite literally, spiritually, but literally.  He was both in the natural world AND in the heavenly places at the same time!  How is this possible?  It’s possible because Jesus (just like you and I) is made up of a spirit, a soul, and a body (1 Thess. 5:23).  With his body and soul he functions on the earth, but with his spirit he functions in the heavenlies.  In fact, he is The Door (ladder) between heaven and earth! See Genesis 28:12-17 and John 1:50,51 for further insight.

Paul tells us that we believers are now seated with Christ in the heavenly places:

“… even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  (Eph 2:5-7)

Sisters and brothers, do you see that this declaration is in the present tense?  We are right now, currently, at this time, seated with Him in the heavenly places!  This means that we (the Church) are also now in two places at the same time.  Even though we are on the earth, he wants to be with us right now in the heavenly realms.  He wants us to be with him and see him in that place that is not bound by space, time, measurement or anything else.  You can turn to He, Himself who lives inside your spirit right now and see his glory.

May we all take this as our glorious occupation!

“… but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”  (2Co 3:16-18)

 

Two New Books You Won’t Want to Miss!

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This is our good brother and friend James in Australia. James is very happy because he has read our two newest books called New Day and The Gathering. If you are interested in knowing Christ in a deeper way and experiencing the organic expression of the Church you will definitely want to check out these two books!

Click here to find out more!

Jesus Now by Frank Viola Now Available for 50% Off!

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Jesus NowGo to Parable.com and get the book at a 50% discount and you’ll receive the companion Study Guide FREE.

This offer is good from today (May 5) to Thursday (May 8).

The Study Guide will be emailed to you (using the same email addressed that you ordered the book with) before May 12th.

The Study Guide contains a Bonus Chapter also – one that’s not in the book.

This book will show you how to write the gospel within the text and textures of your own life. Jesus Now stands as a challenge for each of us to move from numbers to narratives, from scorecards to storyboards, to have our lives become an ongoing provenance for the Jesus story, based on the authentics of the gospel.

The story of Jesus—past and present—is the food of discipleship.

Taste and see.

Leonard Sweet
E. Stanley Jones Chair in Evangelism, Drew University
Distinguished Visiting Professor, George Fox University

He Himself – The Dissolution of Christ

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Dissolution of Christ

dis·so·lu·tion
[dis-uh-loo-shuhn]
noun
1.) the act or process of resolving or
dissolving into parts or elements.
2.) the resulting state.
3.) the undoing or breaking of a bond,
tie, union, partnership, etc.
4.) the breaking up of an assembly or
organization; dismissal; dispersal.

Ladies and gentlemen, what we see before us in the current state of the Christian religion referred to as ‘Christianity’ is the dissolution of Christ.

He Himself, the Person of Christ has been broken down into many pieces and everyone takes the piece or pieces that they like the most.  The problem with this is that what you end up with is not Christ at all!  But rather, different works, teachings, or aspects of the Person which no longer accurately represent Him when taken out of context.  The parts do not equal the whole because the whole is actually a living Person, not some kind of cornucopia of different (separate) items.  Syn-er-gy – noun – the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.

Let me give you a few examples of how we have done this.  It basically breaks down into the character, power, and works of Christ.

His Character

We have taken different aspects of the character of Christ and broken them into pieces or slices and then blown them way up out of proportion as if we are no longer even referring to an actual integrated Person.  One of the best examples is love. Now we know that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8) and that love is a part of his character.  However, if we take love as a thing in and of itself then we do a great disservice to the whole Person of Christ.

I know many believers who only ever talk and write about love.  Of course, they are referring to God’s love, which is Christ.  But they only mention the word “love”.  Pretty soon, after hearing and reading this time and time again you forget that love and Christ are synonymous.  You actually begin thinking (and believing) that love is actually something separate from God in Christ and not part of who He is.  Everything, for these folks, is about love.  Love this and love that.  If we can only love one another won’t everything be wonderful?  The main thing is love, it says that in I Cor 13 doesn’t it?  But what you hardly ever hear is that I Cor. 13 is a description of the character of Jesus Christ!  Go back and read that passage again and you will see what I mean.  No one could live that way except God Himself – yes folks, He Himself!

And what about the new commandment?  You know, “love one another”?  Most believers see that as another mandate that somehow we need to live by.  But the Lord Jesus dashes all hopes of that when he includes this little statement: “as I have loved you!”  Wow!  Now what are we going to do with our dissolution tendency?  Do you actually believe that you, yourself are able to love someone as Christ does?  No way, dude!  Only He Himself can love this way.  Read John 15 again and you will see that abiding comes before loving!  Why?  Because it is actually the indwelling Christ Himself who does the loving in and through you as you abide in HIM – the WHOLE Person!

Also, if you read the “sermon on the mount” again with a view of seeing the eternal purpose of God it will totally change your outlook.  This is not a collection of commands, but rather a description of the King and His Kingdom!  It’s not about you as an individual believer apart from Christ and His Church.  It is a corporate context (a kingdom) of a people who express the character, nature, power, and works of their indwelling King!

His Power

Notice how Christians love to dissolve Christ?  This tendency is totally of the self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-obsessed flesh of the fallen race.  Believers (especially Charismatics) love to separate the power of Christ into categories, compartments, and “giftings”.  “I have this gift.”  “I have that gift.” “I have that ‘ministry'”.  “You have that ministry.”  I love how Paul cut through all of this nonsense in his correctional letter to the Corinthian church.  In I Corinthians chapter 12 he puts the power exactly where it belongs; in Christ.  But notice how he does it, he writes to the church (that is obviously dissolving Christ by making it all about gifts) and he puts all of the gifts into the context of the Body of Christ.  In essence, he just tells them that the gifts are simply functions of the Body!  But you may be asking, “yes Milt, but how does that make it about Christ directly”?  Well folks, Paul makes it all very clear with this one statement:

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.  (1Co 12:12)

Wow!  What a Christ!  What an all inclusive Christ.  The body is Christ.  There is no other way to translate this verse.  So, if the body is Christ then that must mean that all of the members (and gifts of power) are all a part of Christ.  The problem is that we modern day believers have even dissolved Christ into being separate from His own Body!  But how can the Head and the Body be separate from one another?  Together (as one) they make up the one New Humanity.

His Works

We have also dissolved Christ to the point of separating He Himself from his works.  His finished work on the cross and his work of salvation are two good examples of this.

But is the cross simply something he did, or is it the very heart of God?  In other words, was there a Lamb of God even before creation and the fall of man?

And bow before it shall all who are dwelling upon the land, whose names have not been written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;  (Rev 13:8)

This Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world!  This gives us a little hint at the nature of our Lord.  He is one who is more than willing to lay down his life for others (also see Jn. 15:13).  The work of the cross came out of his divine nature which is always laying down his life for God and others.

Also, Paul makes it very clear that the preaching of the cross of Christ means a fatal blow to our self life!  And that is the culprit in all of this dissolution of Christ.  We try to slice Him up into doctrines, gifts, character traits, agendas and works because we are looking for something for our flesh to glory in!  And yet the cross of Christ, IS Christ!  And that, if received, will put an end to all of this dissolution nonsense.

For indeed Jews ask for signs (power) and Greeks search for wisdom (doctrine); but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  (1Co 1:22-24)

And don’t forget that He Himself is also salvation!

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1Co 1:30)

Sisters and brothers, this Christ is a WHOLE Christ.  This Christ is a complete “package”.  You cannot separate He Himself from His aspects, power, works, or any other thing.  If you take any one of those items and emphasize it you will lose the glory of this one, whole, complete Christ who is so much more than anything or anyone that we can ever imagine!

but Christ is all, and in all.  (Col 3:11c)

 

 

The Gathering – A Novel by Milt & Mary Rodriguez

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The Gathering

The American landscape is changing as a radically conservative, right-winged Christian organization called the United Christian Movement is pushing their religious and political agendas on the American people. They succeed in placing a so-called “Christian” in the White House. They have also begun placing many institutional churches under their umbrella of control and initiate a heresy witch hunt. All others are condemned by them as “new age mystics and heretics”. Many true believers are forced to go underground due to penalties of incarceration.

Our story follows the journey of ten of these heretics who dare to place Christ and His church at the center of their lives. God calls these out of different situations and organizations by the use of dreams. He is using these dreams and their interaction with one another to transform their lives. This journey becomes very dangerous as they must elude the powerful U.C.M. to arrive at the goal of their dreams…The Gathering.

Click here to read excerpt from the book (opens window)

What People are Saying about the Book

“The Gathering kept me on the edge of my seat! A Novel Yes, but eerily familiar.”

Vinny Oliveira
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

“The narrative is a good blend of novel and truth without being heavy handed. As the characters grow and learn new things, the reader does as well, even up to the last chapter. Personally I am not a fast reader but the enjoyment and simplicity of the story allowed me to get through it in just over a week. My favorite part of the novel (spoiler alert) is that there isn’t a neat and tidy resolution: the reader is left understanding that these characters lives will continue on and experience ups and downs as the continue to press on towards the prize of knowing God. Read it: its worth your time!”

Thomas Fortson
Gainesville, Florida

“For those who desire to know Christ better, to live by His life together, to fulfill the Father’s eternal purpose through His Son you will see glimpses of what gatherings with Christ as Head could look like in this story. You will see beautiful examples of faith and love and the variety and creativity of Christ in God’s people. After reading The Gathering the dream to truly want to know Christ better, in a deeper way with other brothers and sisters was stirred. The story will quicken His Spirit in your spirit and perhaps help you hear Him better as a result. As you hear Him, by faith follow Him, do what He says, you will be amazed! The story describes how the characters learned to live by their spirit, their conscience and intuition, communing with the Lord. The Gathering is a must read! After reading the last chapter I was hoping for more. The Gathering must have a sequel! Perhaps that’s what Acts in the Bible was meant to do for the brothers and sisters who read it. Hoping for more.”

John S. Wilson III
Houston, Texas

You can order the book now from these sources:

The Rebuilders Website

Amazon

He Himself – In the Tabernacle

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“because in him it did please all the fullness to tabernacle”
(Col 1:19)

All of the fullness of creation (visible and invisible), all of the fullness of the Church, and all of the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell (lit. tabernacle) in Jesus Christ.  Yes, it is in He Himself that all the universe and all of God is pleased to dwell.

What an extremely FULL Christ!

The Tabernacle

In this post I would like to explore this word, tabernacle.

In Colossians 1:19 the word ‘dwell’ is literally ‘tabernacle’.  Also in John 1:14 the word is translated as tabernacle:

And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.

Both of these references speak of Christ as a tabernacle.  Interesting that both of them use the word as a verb rather than a noun.  The fullness was pleased to tabernacle and he did tabernacle among us.  It’s very apparent that God wants to tabernacle.  He wants to dwell.  And the place where He tabernacles is in Christ!  John tells us that when the Word was made flesh He tabernacled among us.  This Man Jesus walked around the planet with the fullness of the community of the Godhead living inside of Him!

Let’s take a brief look at the tabernacle of Moses as a picture or shadow of our glorious Christ… the One True Tabernacle.

Simply stated; everything in the tabernacle of Moses speaks of Christ (see John 1:45; John 5:39; Luke 24:27; Heb. 10:7).  Let’s start from the inside out.

The Holy of Holies

This is just a small room that contains one item; the ark of the covenant.  The “box” represented the presence of God to the nation of Israel.  This ark is an incredible revelation of the Triune God and God’s purpose in Jesus Christ.

The materials and content of the outside –  The box is made of acacia wood overlaid with gold.  The top contains two angels facing each other with their wings touching.  In the scriptures wood usually represents humanity and gold usually represents divinity.  Hmmm… a human who is covered with divinity.  Sound like anyone you know?  How about the one who is both the Son of God and the Son of Man?  But what are the contents of this wooden box overlaid with gold?

  • the jar of manna – this represents the Son who is called the Bread of Life
  • the stone tablets – this represents the Father who is the lawgiver, the law which describes the nature of God … community, relationship, and love!
  • the rod that budded – this represents the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of resurrection life, eternal life, divine life, uncreated life, God’s life!

All of these contents are contained within the Ark who is the living Christ!

because in him doth tabernacle all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9)

Don’t forget that on top of the ark sit two cherubim who are facing downward.

To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves but to you they ministered those things, which have now been announced to you by those who have declared to you the glad tidings by the Holy Spirit, sent from heaven, which angels desire to look into.
(1 Peter 1:12)

Now all of this is contained within the holy of holies which is a small room at the center of the tabernacle.  It’s the place where God lives!  It’s the place inside of every believer where Christ lives by the Spirit and the fullness of the Godhead is contained within that Christ.  Sisters and brothers, this holy of holies is an actual place inside of you called your spirit.  It is the place where He Himself dwells (tabernacles).  The place where His Spirit is one with your spirit.

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  (1Co 6:17)

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man  (Rom 7:22)

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  (2Co 4:16)

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love  (Eph 3:17)

The contents of the ark feed our spirits.  As we turn to He Himself we are nourished by all of the riches of the Godhead in Christ.

The Enlargement of the Holy of Holies

I don’t know if you have ever considered this, but the whole tablernacle is actually the expansion, enlargement, and expression of the center which is the ark.  The holy place and the outer court are the expression of the holy of holies.  You will find the same materials throughout, God and Man becoming one.  We also see this ultimately pictured for us in the New Jerusalem.  Everything emanates from the throne of God; the river of life, the tree of life, the street of gold, all flow out of the throne of God and the Lamb.  The throne is like the ark and it contains all of the fullness of God in Christ.  And this fullness of divine life flows out of the throne to the whole city.  The precious stones that are built into the walls are the saints who have been transformed.

This is definitely a picture of Christ and the Church.  The Church is the expression of Christ who is the expression of God.  The tabernacle is an incredible shadow of Christ and the Church and once again we can see He Himself being shown and displayed throughout the scriptures.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them  (Rev 21:1-3)

He Himself – In the Days of Creation

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MountainSunrise_0For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Col 1:16)

Jesus Christ Himself said that all of the scriptures speak of him (John 1:45; 5:39; Luke 24:27).

If that is true (and it definitely is!), then we can safely assume that we can find Christ in Genesis chapter one, the description of creation.  Can we get a larger vision of a vast Christ who is much larger than we ever thought possible?  Yes, I believe that we can.

Day One – the creation of Light

God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.   (Gen 1:4)

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. (Joh 1:4)
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (Joh 1:5)

There are two things that I want to bring to your attention in these verses.  First of all, God created light before anything else.  The reason for this can be summed up in one word; LIFE!  In fact, the whole creation account is given from the perspective and emphasis of life.  There is a very important spiritual principle at work here.

In order to have life, there must first be light.

Simply stated, life cannot exist without light.  Even the lowest and simplest form of life, plant life, cannot exist without light.  So light must come first.  We even see this to a greater degree on the fourth day when God creates more light (the sun, moon, and stars) and then on the fifth day creates more advanced life forms (Gen. 1:16-22).  Note – when there is more light, then there can be more life.

“… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  (Eph 1:17-23)

Without revelation (light) in the experiential knowledge of He Himself there can be no life or fullness of Christ.

Day Two – the Two Expanses

On day two God created an expanse (called heaven) between the waters on the earth and the waters above the earth.  This is referring to the waters below (the oceans) and the waters above (the clouds).  In between those two would be an expanse that we call the atmosphere.  But how can we see our precious Lord in this?

He refers to Himself in John 1:51 as the ladder between heaven and earth.  This is a direct reference to Jacob’s dream that he had about the ladder (Gen. 28).  What a glorious Lord!  He and He Himself is the connection between the two realms!

Day Three – the Land covered with Life

On this day God causes the waters on the earth to gather together and the land below rises up from the waters.  Folks, this rising happens on the third day!  Does that impress you?  Remember our Christ who is He Himself the Land?  In the bible the seas many times represent death.  Here is the Land rising out of death, a beautiful picture of the death and resurrection of our Lord.

But that’s not all!  Because of this rising there is now more life!  These are the trees.  Plants bearing seeds and yielding fruit!  Sound familiar at all?  He established his New Humanity out of his death and resurrection.  Life abundantly!

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)

Day Four – more Light and Separation

As stated above, on this day God creates more light because he is about to create more life.  But there is something else we see here.  God separates.  Have you ever noticed that God separates things?  Also notice with me that God likes to shine his light from within (or out from) darkness.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
(John 1:5)

Day Five – Birds and Fish

Both of these creatures live in their own special habitats.

Birds are especially equipped to live in the air.  Just look at them!  They don’t even have any arms.  They only have wings!  But that’s exactly what they need to soar through the air.  Your incredible Lord is equipped to live in the heavenly places.  In fact, the heavenlies exist inside of Him!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (Eph 1:3)

And because we are in Him and He is in us, we too can soar like eagles in the heavenly places.  We are especially equipped by God to do this with a special internal organ called a ‘spirit’.  He lives in that place, the heavenly places live inside of Him, and we can fly like the wind in those places.  And guess what?  We don’t have to wait for the sweet bye and bye to fly.  We can soar with Him right now!

Fish also have their own habitat and are equipped with a special organ that actually allows them to breath water.  Here again, in the scriptures, the water can be symbolic for death.  Here is a creature that can breath and actually live in death!  There is not just one Fish but many.

“… always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.”  (2 Co 4:10-12)

Day Six – Cattle, Creeping Things, and Humanity

Here we see the higher, more advanced life forms being created.  The cattle, the beasts, and the creeping things come into view.  Have you ever seen any of these creatures as a picture of Jesus Christ?

He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  He also refers to He Himself as an Ox when he tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  The yoke is a setup for two or more oxen to work together.  But is Christ ever referred to as a “creeping thing”?  Yes!  He refers to Himself this way in the gospel of John.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”  (John 3:14-15)

This is a reference to the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness so that people who had been bitten could be healed (Num. 21:9).

On the sixth day mankind was also created.  This, my friends, was God’s plan to have the highest expression of Christ in His creation.  Man was made in His image (Christ) so that he could contain the life and nature of God and thus present both men and angels with the multifaceted wisdom of God.

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.  (Eph 3:8-10)

What an incredibly glorious Christ!

He Himself – As the True Canaan Land

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Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light. (Col 1:12 Amp.)

In this second post on He Himself (read the first post here if you have not already done so), Paul is making a direct reference to the Canaan Land.  As you can see in the Old Testament, God gave allotted portions of the land to the twelve tribes of Israel:

The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His sworn promise to Isaac. (1Ch 16:16)

He confirmed it as a statute to Jacob, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, [Gen. 35:11, 12.] (1Ch 16:17)

Saying, To you I will give the land of Canaan, the measured portion of your possession and inheritance. (1Ch 16:18)

Here, in Colossians, Paul is telling the believers that Christ is their allotted portion or inheritance.  In other words, HE HIMSELF IS THEIR CANAAN LAND!

What a Christ!  What a vastly rich Christ!  A Christ who is flowing with all of the riches of the Godhead!  Let’s take a quick look at some of these riches as typified in the land of Canaan.  These are all listed in Deut. 8:7-9

The Waters

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.  (John 4:14)

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory.) (John 7:37-39)

When you contact the living Christ who lives inside of you His life flows out like a mighty rushing river.  Notice that the life of Christ is not only in you, the “water” is in you, but also it becomes a bubbling spring (source of water) that springs up out of you as well!  How does this happen?

By opening your mouth and letting the living Christ (water) to come out!

He Himself is our water… He Himself is our refreshment…
He Himself is our newness of Life… He Himself is our cleansing…
He Himself is our washing… He Himself is our purification…
He Himself is our rejuvenation… He Himself is our regeneration…
He Himself is our water!

Have you experienced Him as your living Water today?

Have you refreshed others with the Living Water today?

Food

There are seven types of food listed in Deuteronomy 8:8. Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil, and honey.  These are all wonderful pictures of different aspects of the life and nature of our beautiful Lord.  That is, the unsearchable riches of Christ.  It is interesting to note that in each of these foods there is the element of life coming through death.

Wheat

And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”  (John 12:23-25)

In order for Christ to become our food He had to go through a “process”.  He was the Grain of Wheat that fell into the ground and died.  But we cannot eat grains of wheat.  He had to be incarnated as a man, be crucified, be resurrected, ascended, and glorified. Now, the one grain became many grains and produced a whole harvest.  From that harvest the church was born.  Now, He is our bread, a food that we can eat on a daily basis.

Have you ever seen a grain of wheat?  They are tiny!  Your Lord became very tiny to make He Himself available to you.  He was willing to become incredibly limited to fulfill the Father’s purpose of having a house, a body, a bride, a family, and a new race.  But this one Grain had to fall into the ground and die before this new race could be born.  Death and resurrection, this is what we see throughout all of this.  There can be no resurrection life without a death taking place!

The Lord does something very incredible in this passage… He includes us, the many grains of wheat!  And He says, he who loves his life loses it!  The Lord Jesus isn’t the only one who lays down his life in order for there to be new life happening!

Barley

“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha *said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”   (John 11:22-26)

“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.  (John 6:9-13)

Barley is the first crop in the harvest season.  It appears in early April.  At this time the high priest would go out to one of the farms in the area and search for the first seedling of barley that had broken through the ground.  He would then pluck the seedling and carry it to the temple where he would perform the wave offering of the firstfruits.  This actually took place on the day that Jesus rose from the grave.  Wow! What a picture of our glorious Christ who is He Himself the true Resurrection!

Vines

As in the grinding of wheat to make bread, wine is produced by the crushing of grapes.  The wine that makes the heart of man glad is produced through much suffering and death of the grape.  In the gospel of John wine is a picture or shadow of the divine Life of God.  We can see in the wedding of Cana when Jesus told his mother that his time had not yet come (John 2).  Sounds like the aging necessary for a good wine to me!  I believe he was saying that the time for his life to be given to man was not yet come.  However, he performed this “sign” to display God’s eternal purpose in sending his Son so that mankind could receive his divine life into himself and be transformed into God’s image.

As for myself, I am the vine. As for you, you are the branches. He who maintains a living communion with me and I with him, this one is bearing much fruit, because apart from me you are not able to be doing anything.  (John 15:5 Wuest)

The vine (along with the branches) produces fruit… grapes!  The grapes in the Canaan land were probably as big as basketballs!  It took two grown men just to carry one cluster of grapes (Num. 13:23).  When there is divine Life flowing throughout the Vine and the branches there will be glorious expression of the riches of Christ!

Figs

I have only one thing to say about this – the sweetness, sweetness, sweetness of our Lord!

Pomegranates

Have you ever cut open a pomegranate?  There is only one thing inside of a pomegranate… about a million SEEDS!  And what do “seeds” speak to you about your Lord?  LIFE!  But not just any life.. Abundant Life!  His Life in abundance.

“… I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

The word “life” there is ‘zoe’ in the Greek and this speaks of God’s own life, divine life, uncreated life, eternal life.  The pomegranate also speaks to us of reproduction and health.  Life begets Life.  The life of Christ being expressed to men and angels is the goal and purpose of the Church! (see Eph. 3:10)

Olive Oil

Just like with wheat and grapes, olives speak to us of the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord.  The garden of Gethsemane was located at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  This is where our Christ laid down his life for the purpose of the Father.  It was also the place where olives were harvested to make olive oil.  This happens through the use of an “olive press”, a machine that presses and squeezes the very life and juice (oil) out of the olives to produce olive oil.  This olive press looks a lot like the cross to me!

Honey

This is an incredible picture of Christ and the Church and how God gets his eternal purpose in Christ fulfilled through his Body.

  • The field bees collect the nectar out of flowers.  In fact, they are obsessed with the nectar!  It is so sweet for them (a picture of the richness of Christ) that they cannot help but go out and find it.  Interesting that they find the nectar within flowers.  T. Austin-Sparks defined “glory” as the life of God in it’s highest expression.  When a tree or plant is at its highest moment of expression it blossoms.  The flowers are the glory (or highest expression) of the plant.  Hold that thought for a moment.
  • The field bees store the nectar in a special compartment located within their bodies.  Every believer has an innermost place (spirit) where the Lord’s life resides.  The bees fly back to the hive and then deposit (by regurgitation) the nectar into the house bees.  The house bees add their own enzymes to the nectar.  We humans add our own flavor to his life expressed through us!
  • The nectar turns into honey and is stored as the food for the whole hive. What a picture of how the Body of Christ works in expressing Christ to one another and the whole world, and to angels!  We take his glory (flowers) and extract the life (nectar) into our spirits.  Then, we share this life with the rest of the “hive” so that this “hive” can manifest his glory to men and angels.

Wow! What an incredible Christ!  What a glorious Lord!

He Himself is our vast, all-inclusive Canaan Land!

He Himself contains all of the unlimited resources and riches that we need!

(Be watching for the next post in this series coming soon!)

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