Face to Face with God

I was divorced and living in a one-bedroom apartment, feeling confused and alone. It was a hard time in my life but I had always loved the Lord and been very close to Him. I needed Him now more than ever.

On this particular morning the alarm had just zapped me with its wake-up call so I needed to get up and ready for work. I didn’t normally get up at 4:00AM but I had recently made a new commitment to pray with God for one hour each day. I crawled out of bed, got dressed, and went to the front room for fellowship with God.

I was praying the Lord’s Prayer and had just finished hallowing the Lord’s name. Because prayer is a dialogue and not a monologue, I stopped praying and stood there in the front room with my eyes closed, waiting on the Lord’s response. I could not hear anything in my spirit but continued to wait nonetheless.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth [Psalms 46:10 KJV].

Then something started to become visible in my spirit.

It was like looking at a movie scene filled with theatrical smoke, only in suspended animation. In the distance, a small speck materialized. I thought to myself, what is going on? What is stopping me from seeing clearly? Why the smoke? The Lord hadn’t spoken to me yet, so I continued to wait on Him. What are you trying to show me Lord? Is there something in me that isn’t yet right with you Lord? Is it stopping me from seeing my vision or keeping me from going into your presence?

I have heard the audible voice of God before but never have I had a vision, so I didn’t know what to think, expect, or do, so I continued to wait. While I subconsciously played twenty questions with God, the whole scene seemed to come at me all at once; the image grew in size until I could finally distinguish what it was. Although still fuzzy in appearance, it began to look like a plus sign. The image continued to grow until there was no question as to its identity. It was a Cross.

In an instant zoom, the next thing I could see was the face of Christ. He was looking toward heaven. His face was not in the distance, but up close and personal. His face was all I could see. How could a face so covered with blood and pain, shine with so much love and compassion; love, as only God can give? I was numb with His presence and didn’t know whether I was shaking because of His presence or because of my awe at the experience. . .it was probably a little of both.

Then something happened that I would never forget. Ever!

In slow motion, Jesus turned and pivoted His head until He was looking me straight in the eyes. Christ said, “I love you, Jim.” The presence of God was vibrating in me as I stood there, eyes closed, and looking straight into the eyes of Jesus Christ. Jesus was touching my spirit with His eyes and His voice reverberated in my soul.

By this time I was completely numb from the waist up with the power of God. My knees were so weak that I could hardly stand. As I stood there basking in His presence, His image slowly started to fade. The veil became thicker and thicker until He finally disappeared. I do not know how long I stood there; I only know that Cecil B. DeMille could not have made this scene any more real than the one that I had just witnessed.

By virtue of the smoke that was in the foreground of my vision, I believe that the Holy Spirit brought me back to the Cross just so Jesus could personally tell me that He loved me. It was as though He was telling me that if I were the only person on earth, He would have still died for me.

His visitation that day told me that in those two-thousand years He still hadn’t left or forsaken me. His Word says as much in Hebrews 13:5, “. . .for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” He loved me then and He loves me now. In the loneliness and despair of divorce, those precious words “I love you, Jim,” helped me to go on. His presence refurbished my soul and changed my life.

Now, when I face difficult circumstances, I remember that voice who exclaimed His love for me that April morning in my front room, and somehow, no matter what, I get through the day and into the next, which is invariably better. However, one thing to remember – God is no respecter of person [1]. Be hungry for the Lord and He will come to you one morning “face to face.”

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[1] Romans 2:11

Open the Eyes of My Heart

While on vacation in Nanaimo BC, Canada, I stopped by Neck Point and found a platform overlooking the ocean. It is about an eight foot square structure with a wrought iron fence that encloses the space. I thought that it would be a great place to be alone with God, pray, and to write. It was.

There were two small cement blocks with backs on which people could sit and look at the scenery. I sat down with pad and pen to work on my book, but as I looked through the fence, I thought of Paul. I could only imagine what Paul must have felt sitting in prison as he looked through his own bars. Prison has to be a confining, hopeless, and lonely place, especially without the possibility of being free. At least I could leave anytime I wanted at Neck Point.

As I sat there in prison thinking about poor Apostle Paul, a song continued to loop through my mind, “Open the eyes of my heart lord. . .open the eyes of my heart. . .I want to see you. . .I want to see you.” The Lord reminded me that He had freed me from the prison of my mind on the Cross [1]. Actually, the Lord is no respecter of persons [2] and He has freed us all from the captivity of our minds [3]. My prayer for you is:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people. . .[Ephesians 1:18 NIV]

I thought about how, in my own life that the enemy had held me captive to sin and how I used my guilt and shame as a filter for my disobedience in how I perceived God to feel about me. I’d temporarily lost sight of my perceived significance to God.

The Bible says that,

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior [4], but. . .if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed [5]. The enemy has held us captive long enough.

v3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh
v4 (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds),
v5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;
v6 and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full [2 Corinthians 10:3-6 KJV].

If we open the eyes of our heart, we will see Him and will be enlightened to the hope in which Christ has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance for His holy people. We can put on the armor of God daily and cast down all imaginations that exalt itself against the knowledge of God.

Next week we will study the full armor of God and prepare ourselves for the battle to come. It may take a couple of blogs to cover, especially when many authors have written books about the subject.

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[1] Romans 7:22-25
[2] Acts 10:34
[3] Ephesians 4:8; James 1:15
[4] Colossians 1:21 NIV
[5] John 8:36 NIV

The f(F)ather’s love

Father son fishing at Sebastian BeachWhile sitting at the beach waiting for one of Nanaimo’s famous sunsets, I watched a father and son fishing off of the bank. In this day and age, it is great to see a father and son together doing things together. The father would kneel by his son and help him rig his rod and line. When they finished they cast their lines into the water in anticipation of hooking a fish to take home to mom.

After a few minutes, the son hooked a fish. I could see the smile on the dad’s face even from where I was sitting. Needless to say, the son had more than a smile on his face. When he landed the fish, I could see him look up at his father for his approval – which he received. This was a touching moment for me as I remember, as a child, how I always sought my father’s approval. If my dad was proud of me, that’s all that I needed. My father was my hero.

Thank you Lord for allowing me to see this tender moment between a father and son, which reminded me of your love for us and how you stand on the bank of our lives helping us to be fishers of men.

And he saith unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men [Matthew 4:19 KJV].

Like the father who fished with his son and knelt by him to encourage, teach, and guide him, God the Father comes along side of us to teach and guide us [1].

Our life is a movie that God has already seen and He is always there when we call on Him. He is our ever present when the world has tried setting a hook in us [2].

Seeking the approval of Father God helps us in not only our own growth, but helps us in bringing others to Christ and into the fold as children of God [3]. The heart of all sons [4] is to seek the approval of their father. It sure was with me and this little boy on the shores of Sebastian Beach and the Strait of Georgia [5].

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[1] Psalms 32:8, 9
[2] John 10:29
[3] John 3:1
[4] and daughters
[5] Nanaimo BC, Canada

RECALCULATING

I remember a few weeks ago, I was running a little behind schedule and if I didn’t get there in 15 minutes, I would be late thereby putting myself further behind. I had just a few more turns and I’d be there. The route was complicated with many turns through a wooded neighborhood.

My GPS [1] informed me that I was to turn right in a couple hundred feet. There it was, up ahead. I saw the street name that I was looking for and took my eye off of my unit and turned right at the next street. The GPS did its job and immediately kicked into gear and said, “Recalculating!”

As if the unit could hear me, I spoke back to it, “What? How can this be?” However, the GPS was right; I had turned on “Drive” instead of “Place.” Oops. After backtracking and adjusting my direction, I was able to return to the designated route programed into the unit and found my destination, and was on time to boot.

How many times in life have we made the wrong turn and needed to repent whereby God had to recalculate our journey for us?

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all [Isaiah 53:6 NIV].

Like a sheep gone astray, I have made many wrong turns in my life but hallelujah; Christ has laid my iniquity on Himself at the Cross. To be sure that we make all the right turns in life, we can revisit God’s GPS, which is the Word of God. The acronym GPS could stand for “God’s Positioning Spirit.”

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will position you into all truth [2]. The directions/instructions for God’s GPS is not rituals and rules but of a personal fellowship with Him. To fellowship with God, we must understand that He is totally holy. He is light and there is no darkness in Him [3].

Koinonia is a Greek word meaning fellowship, or being in agreement with one another. Koinonia is also a derivative of Koinos, which means common or shared. Consequently, if we want to have Koinonia (fellowship) with God, we need to follow His lead and directions―turn for turn, Because it is written, be ye holy, for I am holy [4].

Therefore. . .walk in the light as He is in the light. . . [5]. If we fellowship with God, we will be in fellowship with others as well [6]. The reverse is also true; if we are not in fellowship with one another, we are not in true fellowship with God. Relationship and fellowship should always start vertically and then horizontally.

To walk in the light we need our GPS turned on (opened), and a confirmed destination which for a Christian, is the image of Christ [7]. However, do not worry, His GPS will tell you what turns you need to take. Conversely, He’ll also tell you when you make a wrong turn. All we have to do is follow His directions and do our best to live life without hearing, “Recalculating!”

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[1] Global Positioning Satellite
[2] John 16:13
[3] 1 John 1:5
[4] 1 Peter 1:16 KJV
[5] 1 John 1:7
[6] 1 John 1:3
[7] Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18