Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Seeking the Face of Jesus

Eph.1:15-23 - Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
P
aul mentions the “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”. What a declaration! How many believers consistently beseech the Lord for that spirit? Is it our daily practice to seek a fresh revelation of Him? Or have we become enamored with this world and while toiling in Martha’s kitchen we have become ambivalent about Mary’s place before His feet? Oh what have we done to the faith once delivered to the saints?
So many times the doctrinally orthodox community tends to ignore, if not reject, the notion that a believer can fellowship with Christ in the realm of the spirit with a surprising intimacy. They suggest that it is enough to embrace the foundational truths of the faith, but they make no mention of pursuing the very face of Jesus through fasting, prayer, and seasons of deep and penetrating Scriptural meditation. I would like to take issue with that entire spiritual construct.
When a sinner is granted a revelation of the Lord Jesus as the only Savior and the only way to eternal life, that sinner believes on Christ and is born again. He becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus. But it should not stop there. We have become children of God and we now have access to our Father through the Lord Jesus. We are now inhabited by the Holy Spirit who desires to lead us into all truth. And our relationship with Jesus should never be merely historical. We are sometimes bound to the narrative of what Jesus did for us when we were saved and how He changed our lives. That is always good.
But how has Jesus changed your life today? And the most wonderful thing the Spirit can do for you today is to open the veil and allow a soul shaking revelation of the Risen Christ.
Ps.27:7-9 - Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
W
hen two lovers sit across from each other they gaze into each other’s faces. It is that face where their lips speak words of love and affirmation. They do not sit in a booth and look down and read their lover’s biography. No, they enjoy the intimacy of visual contact and seasons of affirmation and sharing. Many times their appetite is interrupted by the sheer weight of their loving emotion. A lover will think many times during the day of the set rendezvous later in that day. A lover will think about their partner, and even write quite embarrassing notes of affection that are never meant for the eyes of others.
If it is late and they are tired, these lovers somehow find additional strength to elongate their time together. Which lovers go day after day without spending intimate time together? What lovers depend upon the knowledge of the other they gleaned when they originally met, and with that knowledge they are satisfied? And after they are married their relationship changes in some ways, but they still enjoy some times of intimacy. In fact, a marriage that has no intimacy is dead even though the marriage certificate is still valid.
II Cor.:6 - For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
W
hat is the Spirit telling us here? What does it mean when He uses the phrase “in the face of Jesus Christ”? And if the knowledge of the glory of God is in the face of Jesus, then we should seek it. Or do we just read those words, overlook any real meditation about them, and point out the excesses of our charismatic friends? And do we allow excesses to rob us of the glory that is found in seeking His face?
It is quite possible that the western church has lost the desire to spend the necessary time required to seek the face of God. Prayer itself is a perfunctory exercise which is practiced sparingly and almost always without tears and passion and an unction to actually experience His presence. And while we criticize the Roman Catholic Church because of their vain repetitions, we ourselves speak redundant and powerless “bless us” words.
The spiritual practices that demand our full attention as well as the freedom from the constraints of time have been lost to the western church. We have been sold a bill of goods, and even if we see it now and acknowledge our pitiful condition, it is most difficult to summon the strength to break out of our cultural prison. And if we repented and decided to pursue prayer and meditation once again with vigor, sacrifice, and brokenness we would be looked upon as fanatics who have become unbalanced. But I am convinced that the things of this present world could not be compared with the spiritual rewards in such a journey.
II Cor.3:17-18 - Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
A
gain we see the Spirit teaching us that it is possible to behold the glory of the Lord, and in that experience we ourselves are being changed. So what does that tell us about our lives if we are not pursuing a spiritual life that seeks God’s face and God’s glory? It tells us that we are not being changed, and the “I gave up smoking, etc.” recounting of our original conversion experience has become an historical account of change that has long since died out. We’ve become satisfied with those changes, many of them outward, and we have little interest in a refining and transformation in the present. But it would do us well to remember that many of the outward changes God made in our lives during those first few years can also be made by unbelievers.
But the inward man who is made in the image of Christ, well the unbeliever has no part in him. But many believers treat him as some intangible doctrine rather than a living, breathing entity within us. That inward man remains unnourished and the carnal man stands in for him, and after several years that carnal man can even act religious. He goes to church and sings the songs and gives money to the cause and does a host of other outward oblations. But still, the inward man is neglected and powerless.
But if the face of Jesus can be experienced, and if believers can experience the presence of God’s glory, wouldn’t we all rush with delight to seek such? We are so captured in this cookie cutter Christian existence that we have forgotten Him except as a doctrine to defend against the usual evangelical suspects. But Jesus desires so much more with us. Yes missions; yes fellowship; yes praise; yes clean living; yes all those things.
But why don’t preachers exhort us to do what you are saying.” One reason is because many are busy running a church and paying bills and keeping people content. And perhaps its that many, many pastors do not even know what I am saying and hear my words as some kind of moon-man talk. What separates us from the Joel Osteen’s of the evangelical world? Is it only because of what we say and preach, or should it also be because of the observable depth of our devotional life? Carnal pastors are asking couples to be intimate with each other daily for a week or a month. How about being intimate with Jesus daily?
But what would Jesus say to us if He came down for a few precious moments? Perhaps,
I love each and every one of you. But I continue to stand ready to meet you in ways about which you cannot even dream. I am calling, calling, calling. I wish to meet with you beyond programs and convenient places in your life. I will reveal Myself to anyone who diligently seeks Me. In the secret place of the Most High I stand eager to embrace you with a glory that will change you. In fact, one hour in my genuine presence will change your life more deeply that listening to scores of sermons. But if you spend that kind of time with Me, then the messages might mean much more than they do now. Come and let us dine together.

If we ever plan on seeking His face we must do it quickly.

2 comments:

William Birch said...

What an awesome reminder -- what a great correcter this post is: "but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Lk. 10:42 NASB).

Al said...

"daily practice to seek a fresh revelation of Him"
This morning I was re-reading Daniel 8, 9 and 10. In each chapter there is a reference to the daily sacrifices. And I read this from you. In essence, this is it isn't it. It's seeking Him daily so that our lives become a daily sacrifice to Him in His will. There will be a day where this will be stopped or hindered. Even as it is being hindered in countries around the world. And the Holy Place that will be desolated is where the Spirit resides. In His people. Thanks for the exhortation. God Bless.