The Love Feast of True Communion.

“Communion, that is what I desire with you – Communion, which is the closest possible relationship – where My Spirit joins with your spirit, even closer than when you were at your closest, warm embrace with Emily. My communion with you is perfect – we are fused together. With Emily there was always some deep, hidden agenda, both with you and her. Now also remember, true communion is represented symbolically in the bread and wine – My body broken and My blood shed for you to make it possible.” That was God’s word to me yesterday.

Today the conversation continued: “So what is your motivation to have and continue your communion with Me? Do you seek some benefit from it – some sort of reward or kick-back? Will you still feel that close to Me if you did not have all I have given you here in your life in the Village? If things go horribly wrong in some way in your life? Don’t be afraid to focus on Me, remember the promise in Psalm 23, how I am preparing a table (feast) for you in the presence of your enemies – apart from my communion being like a love-feast with you, I want my relationship with you to be a shining example to Satan as part of my great victory. But this is just a shadow, looking forward to the great wedding feast of the Lamb. your place is prepared for you, you don’t have to earn it – I have already prepared that place – so enjoy My communion right now so that Satan can be jealous of that and we can defeat the doubts he is seeking to plant in your mind.

Another reminder from psalm 23 – there will be tribulation in this world as you go with Emily through the valley of the shadow of death – but I have promised to be with you right there all the time, that is part of My communion, I am there in he midst of all your trials and tribulations – giving you My continuous grace and practical help”

Now to our bible reading as we come to Luke ch 9. This is the pivotal chapter in Luke where Jesus’ identity is finally established and recognized, from now on the theme of the gospel will start to focus on the certainty and importance of His death, the true purpose for which He came. This pivotal chapter comes much earlier than the parallel chapters in Mark and Mathew, because in Luke it is followed by a number of juicy parables, which don’t occur in Matthew and Mark

My reading to day is Luke 9:10-17. Considering the brevity of many of his other reports, Luke gives considerable attention to the description of this miracle, which is mentioned in all the gospels. Coming just before Peter’s confession of who the disciples believe Jesus is, it seems that it is supposed to be the final exclamation mark as to His true identity. Why is it so decisive? Firstly it is the first miracle which focusses on a large number of people. Before this Jesus has dealt with individuals, healing and exorcising them and raising them from the dead. Then it is a miracle of creation as well as of multiplication. Two fish and five loaves distributed and multiplied to feed a crowd (5000 males alone) leaving 12 basketfuls of pieces behind. It is so easy to be used to this story to miss the incredibly, amazing message it brings. As Jesus looks up into heaven (vs 16) He is calling down none less than the powers of the Kingdom of God to invade our world, reminding us that His coming is not for a moral reformation but a spiritual revolution. The all-powerful kingdom of God is breaking into the world.

The symbolism includes a reminder of God’s provision of the manna in the desert to the people of Israel which was basic to the message of His total care for them in the most adverse conditions and a reminder to us that He will do the same for us, and then it looks forward to the great feast of the marriage supper of the Lamb at the close of history. As I read his passage I couldn’t help chuckling as I saw the link with the message He had given me earlier about the table in Psalm 23.

Of course there is another theme as He calls on the disciples to pass the food around, it is a prediction of the role they (and us) are to play in the future of the kingdom. They can take whatever small resources they have and Jesus will multiply that to bring the Kingdom purposes to bear. what an encouragement that is to each one of us. All we need to do is bring our resources, no matter how meager, to Him in our service of Him and He will multiply them to fit whatever the need is!

And look how Luke has bracketed this story: 9: 9b “…who is this I hear such things about?” and “….who do you say I am?” vs 20, just to emphasize the message between them it should bring and calling on us to answer the question for ourselves.

So I end once again with this all important question, at this moment in the middle of this virus pandemic: “Who do you say Jesus is?” Pause, think deeply then honestly deep inside your heart answer that question. I am not suggesting that you do not believe, I am suggesting that your view of Jesus determines your whole experience of Him and the faith you put in Him. You find it will determine how you will feel and what you will experience in your heart in the face of such and any other huge challenge you may be facing or will face in the future. And it will colour how much you enjoy Him even today

New Wine.

As the notes of the beautiful song New Wine slowly fade away its as if the Lord is saying to me, “Imagine you are a bunch of grapes – made and beautifully filled with juice – slowly the blush of the late summer shows you are ripening – Then I cut you loose from the vine and cast you into the wine-press where you are slowly crushed, spilling the precious juice, because as a whole grape you cannot become wine. So as you are crushed and the juice flows free – it has a natural tendency to ferment and form wine – yet here the Wine-maker’s skill comes into play as he guides the process to produce the best aroma and flavour as it is put together and matures. His skill turns the natural product into a beautiful, delicious wine which can give joy to those who drink it. But the wine gets better the more mature it becomes and gives more aroma and flavour – I am the Wine-maker and have been making you all your life for My table and although I want you to give flavour and aroma to all those around you, I am reserving the best for my table at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. So I am still busy removing all the impurities, so the end-product will be perfect”.

In my Bible reading; I have come to the last part of the section in Luke in chapters 7 and 8 with the common theme of Jesus’ salvation and revealing who He is, running through them. The problem with these stories is that we have heard and read them so often, it is easy to fall back on your previous recollection, rather than asking Jesus what He is saying to you today. It is clear that he brackets this section with two similar stories at either end. A healing for an important person – the centurion and then Jairus, the synagogue ruler. Alongside these two stories are two others involving women of no standing. There are two stories of rescue from the dead, with the widow in ch 7 and Jairus’s daughter in ch 8. Altogether this passage shows Jesus’ authority over sickness, death, the natural elements and the demonic world. He is truly the Messiah as prophesied in ch 4. The main lesson for us is the importance of responding in faith on the one hand and on the other to see that what He offers us is a free gift which we simply must receive to enjoy it. Jesus is portrayed again and again in different settings so that we can come to grips with this Man and get to know Him, so that we are drawn to put our faith in Him as we see him in a broader sense. You see Christian faith is not a leap in the dark. We cannot just sit and generate faith, we need to understand and be able to believe in a real figure as He is portrayed here for us. And as we get to know Him better, our faith will also grow..

So what did I feel Jesus was saying to me?

Firstly His willingness to touch the rejected and untouchable, bringing them into the warmth of His love. Then His insistence on the bleeding woman showing herself, showed He cannot be used in a superstitious way like people who go out of their way to touch relics. Healing must be accompanied by a personal meeting with Himself to fulfil His purpose. And thirdly the way He made Jairus wait may seem cruel, yet there is a sense in which time plays an important role in Jesus’ interaction with us. Like the wine-maker cannot hurry the maturing process and how the grapes are damaged beyond recognition before the best taste can come out, just so He needs and uses the crushing of pain and passage of time in the process of maturing us to the best possible aroma. Yes – His timing and His manipulation is always right.

So this is the main word I heard from Jesus – God is NEVER LATE, His timing is always right. We can – I can depend on Him completely, all I need is to learn to slow down and trust Him for as long as it takes.

The Rich Soil of the True Listener.

As I was reading Luke 8, the parable of the soils, I was taken back to a night in 1974 when the darkness in my soul was as deep as the moonless darkness outside. I was alone at home and picked up a Helen Steiner Rice book that I had given Emily some time before, to seek consolation. Opening the book I read the following poem, a poem that had such an effect on me that it has stayed with me ever since then:

“The farmer ploughs through fields of green

and the blade of the plough is sharp and keen,

But seed must be sown to bring forth grain,

For nothing is born without suffering and pain –

And God never ploughs in the soul of man

Without intention and purpose and plan,

So whenever you feel the plough’s sharp blade

Let not your heart be sorely afraid

For, like the farmer, God chooses a field

From which He expects an excellent yield –

So rejoice though your heart is broken in two,

God seeks to bring forth a rich harvest in you.

Although I wasn’t converted yet, after I had dried the tears away, it was as if a shaft of light suddenly shone into my darkness. “How exciting, the pain I am feeling is a sign of the fact that God is preparing me for a specific task!” There are a few signposts in my life which stand out as pointers that God has always had a very special plan for me. Of course I now believe He has a special plan for each one of us, but this was part of a completely unexpected, highly personal directive.

So to Luke, the three stories from Luke 8:4-21 need to be read together as they have a common theme. It is a twofold theme and deals with God’s Word on the one hand and our response on the other. The three stories are held together by: “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” Luke 8:8; The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you (the disciples), but to others I speak in parables, so that though seeing, they may not see; though hearing they may not understand” Luke 8:10; Whoever has will be given more, whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Luke 8:18; My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice Luke 8:21.

Can you see the link to the name of our blog lets LISTEN to Jesus. The premise is that there is “listening” and “LISTENING”. He who has ears let him hear. How do you know whether you are hearing Jesus Word? Well it shows in the response, doesn’t it. One who hears and understands produces fruit, there is a change, isn’t it. The story of the lamp is basically saying God isn’t really making a secret of the kingdom (as He says in vs 9b), His Word is as clear as a lamp on he hill. The problem of not understanding lies with the attitude of the listener (reader). So, as in the third story those who really listen and are truly part of the kingdom (iow saved) are those who not only hear the word but put it into practice. In other words they hear from the heart, they hear Jesus speaking to them personally. These stories reveal that the way we listen can bring a sort of judgement on those who don’t really want to hear, who don’t want to obey who are like the first three soils in the parable.

Don’t we see this in practice? The most intelligent and highly trained intellectuals often miss the point completely because they are just interested in analyzing the passage, not in hearing Jesus and having their lives changed. Others come to church for whatever reason, but have no real interest in meeting with Jesus and having a life-transforming experience. etc. To many others, this life-giving, all-powerful Word makes no sense at all, even when it is explained. On the other hand is it not so exciting that we all have access to Jesus and His words, they are as plain as a light on a hill-top, if we wish to hear and respond. And just as John the Baptist was “preparing the way for Jesus”, so our Father prepares our hearts and sometimes this means using a sharp plough to prepare our heart’s soil so that we can be receptive to His word. Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you.

Lets then – really “listen to Jesus”, expectantly asking Him to open our hearts that we may truly change to love and obey Him more and more, from our hearts.