Some first thoughts
"Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.
So keep coming to him who is the Living Stone—though he was rejected and discarded by men but chosen by God and is priceless in God’s sight. Come and be his “living stones” who are continually being assembled into a sanctuary for God. For now you serve as holy priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices that he readily accepts through Jesus Christ.
You are rising like the perfectly fitted stones of the temple; and your lives are being built up together upon the ideal foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, and best of all, you are connected to the Head Cornerstone of the building, the Anointed One, Jesus Christ himself! This entire building is under construction and is continually growing under his supervision until it rises up completed as the holy temple of the Lord himself. This means that God is transforming each one of you into the Holy of Holies, his dwelling place, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in you!
And this truth of who I am will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church—my legislative assembly, and the power of death will not be able to overpower it!
Looking at the scriptures quoted above leaves us in no doubt that the house, the temple, the place of rest that God desires to have amongst us is a central purpose on his agenda. There are so many more scriptures that substantiate this.
Two vitally important principles about this that we should pay attention to are:
· It is his dwelling place, not ours,
· He will build it, not us. We are co-workers, yes, but I am afraid practice has convinced me that we have become the builders and we invite him to work with us. We have and we are building a house that we think he wants while that is not necessarily the case.
During the past 40 odd years God has repeatedly spoken to me about his house, impressing its importance on me. Although the topic has not been on my mind 24/7, the theme has been a regular one with its relevancy increasing markedly since the worldwide COVID experience of 2020.
My own awareness right now is that there is a decided prophetic urgency to this message and it must cause us to stop the bus so to speak and listen to what God is saying. I believe it is something like this: I have been trying to get your attention my people, but you are so busy with your own agendas and programmes for my house that you have not taken the time to stop and connect with me to find out what is on my heart. I said that I would build my house and that is true. I have not abandoned my purpose. I want to build it both with you as living stones and also through you as co-labourers with me.
A prophetic message
My own experience, as well as that which I have seen around, me, is that we have some real stumbling blocks with the prophetic that we will have to take care of.
Nowadays so many messages are being posted and shared as being prophetic that it has made it somewhat commonplace. That can cause, and actually has caused, us to gloss over messages that might require serious consideration. The truth is of course that there are many instances where something is dished up as being prophetic while it is not so. The onus is on us to learn how to discern with great care. You may now ask if this message that I am bringing is not one of those cases. It is your responsibility to read and judge for yourself. I am only sharing it because I believe it is important to do so and I have to get it off my chest while at the same time I am asking the Holy Spirit to work it out in my own life.
My point of departure
Before I embark on sharing my thoughts on God’s house it is important that I give an insight into the womb that gives birth to my Biblical thinking which in turn has a formative influence on my interaction with God.
Years ago I listened to someone who told a story about a chicken. This chicken belonged to a lady who was part of their group of believers. Her name, the lady's name not the chicken's, was Donna Lola. Donna Lola's chicken came out of its egg with an impediment, it’s one foot pointed to the front while the other one faced backwards. The obvious result was that it could go nowhere. It could only rock to and fro being in a state of uncertainty and confusion, staying in the same spot without any direction.
I have often felt like Donna Lola's chicken when I read and tried to understand some of the seemingly contradictory statements in the Bible. The Bible is the book that contains the truth which is my guide on the journey to live in a progressively surrendered relationship with the Trinity, but I found that in reading it I often ended up taking one step forward and the next one back.
It was difficult for me to hold some seemingly differing verses in tension. Verses like: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." and then one that says, "Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’” Paul then follows this up by saying: Therefore, He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
My question then was, OK, he loves the world except for Esau because he hates him? So, he, who is the very essence of love, is also capable of hatred. When am I like Esau? Is he hardening me too because he does not want to have mercy on me?
There are numerous similar scriptures, seemingly portraying God as being both a God of peace and a God of war, a God abolishing the killing of one another yet also a God sanctioning such killing, a compassionate God and a vindictive God.
And there I go, wanting to do the Donna Lola two-step.
While I am on no way denying or jettisoning scriptures that, at first reading, seem to portray God as being unloving or vindictive or punitive in any way, my firm conviction and unshakeable position is to interpret scripture and to base my personal journey of getting to know him solely on his love. By that I not only mean the love that he shows and gives, but on the fact that love is the very essence of his being. He does not only love, he is love.
Whom does he love? Everybody. Is it possible to be in a place where he will withhold his love? No, it is not possible because if he can do that he will be able to deny who he is and by that I mean the sweet society of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit: So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!
The following prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesian church is my prayer for myself and for all that I get in touch with: So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the perfect Father of every father and child in heaven and on the earth. And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.
Paul is saying that we must see to it that our root system, and by implication that is the system that provides stability and unshakeable security in the stormy times of life and also the system that feeds and nourishes us, is only placed in this magnificent, multi-dimensional and intimate love that the Trinity is and has for every single human being. It is a love that is enduring and inclusive, deeply intimate and extravagant and beyond our ability to measure and understand. It is a love that is not an attribute of God, but who he is in his essential being. It is a love that emanates from the heart of the Trinity - Father or Papa, Jesus or Elder Brother and Shepherd and the Holy Spirit or Comforter and Nurturer. Love has a face, it is not an impersonal awareness of love as though love is God. No, God is love. We should ask God to help us see, embrace, experience and live from his being of love for ourselves and the whole of humanity.
When I find myself in a Donna Lola situation, I choose to be rooted and grounded, and therefore base my understanding and interpretation, solely on love. I put any part of scripture that seems to say something else on the back burner saying to myself that I don’t deny it, but that I will only understand its meaning and implication as I am progressively being fully formed in love. Love’s perfection drives fear from our hearts. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
I love what Brad Jersak says:
God is good and never evil. He is the perfection of what we call goodness.
God is love and every other aspect of God must align with his love.
God is light and in him is no darkness whatsoever (1 John 1:9)
God is perfect beauty and in him is no ugliness at all.
God is perfect truth and let no one call him a liar.
God is perfect justice and in him is no injustice at all.
Learning to embrace and live from this love is the journey of life, nothing else. It is a journey that is being negotiated in a broken world that propagates the opposite of this love and also out of our own seriously skewed self-view. This skewed evaluation of ourselves is universal, it applies to all of humanity because All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way…
At the same time this journey to recover the love that we have lost is a journey on which we are invited to lay hold of a secure inheritance that is already ours. It is also one on which we are in the process of becoming someone whom we actually already are. On this pilgrimage we learn to progressively live from a fountain of love that is already inside of us irrespective of our experience of it.
We will not be able to do so in isolation, therefore we will need to buy into a corporate view of it and become a community of people or the house of God. We must our hear our Papa’s voice, see our Elder Brother’s face and feel our Comforter’s presence as they say to us:
Bring everything to us, hide nothing, embrace the whole spectrum of your life because we love you as you are, but also to not leave you as you are. As you hold the cup of your own life in the light of our loving countenance, lift it up to others and share it, encouraging one another to do the same. It is only in this way that you will be able to authentically share life with one another. You have tried to create community in so many other ways because you felt that the cost of this one is too high, but there is no other way. This is community as it exists within us and as we intended for it to be amongst you. Don’t judge one another, but receive, first yourselves and then one another as we receive you.