Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus (Part 1)
Beloved Family… the major ability that our Disciple Boot Camp training must instill in us, is what the writer of Hebrews instructed the Judean Messianic Jews to begin to do habitually, while they were going through their training:
“… Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND PERFECTER OF FAITH, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT GROW WEARY AND LOSE HEART!” (Hebrews 12:1b-3 Emphasis added.)
So, dear ones, ponder these questions:
- For what kind of ‘combat’ was the Holy Spirit preparing them?
- What, specifically, did He mean when He said, ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus’?
- How would that prepare them for what loomed ahead of them?
I believe it will help us answer the questions if we start by putting this letter in its proper historical context. The writer was reaching out to Israelite disciples whose faith in Yeshua had begun to waver. Many were being tempted to renounce their faith in Yeshua and return to their former places in Judaism. But at that time, no one had any idea that very soon, they would have to endure and survive the unspeakable unimaginable horror of being overrun by brutal Roman legions! It wouldn’t be long before their God-given Land would be invaded… Jerusalem would be put to the torch… Judaism’s religious system would be obliterated… the Temple would be leveled… and the Roman heel would stomp the Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system into the ground. And then any surviving Jews would be scattered all across the Gentile world and barred from returning to their God-given Home!
Who can even imagine the enormity of such a traumatic upheaval and uprooting? But that is exactly what happened, just a few years after they got that letter! When it arrived, the recipients had no inkling of what would soon happen… but the Holy Spirit did! So He was gearing and preparing them to wake up and to be equipped to persevere and overcome any and all obstacles, so they could finish the race and fulfill their God-given New Covenant commissions.
So that phrase, ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus’ was packed with vitally important meaning. By no means was it just a pious platitude! The Holy Spirit was dead serious when He said it to those people… and to us. Under those horrendous first century conditions, there was no way their poor human flesh and faculties would be able to know what to do, or how to do it, once the catastrophe overtook Israel. They would have been totally lost and overwhelmed, UNLESS God had taught and trained them in advance… to abide in the Perfect Presence of their risen Lord, and to interact with Him and draw everything they would need from Him! They had to actually know Him and He had to become that real to them! And that’s what the wonderful New Covenant was making available to them! They did have the ability to know God’s Living Word like that, and many of them did begin to interact with Him as He covered and provided for and protected them throughout the course of their days on this earth!
So for that generation, ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus’ meant… ‘We must learn to depend on and draw whatever we’re going to need… from the Lord’s Perfect Presence… at all times… and for all things!’ And so it will help us to try to understand how the Lord was training that unique first generation of New Covenant disciples. What was true for them in those turbulent first century years will be just as true, and even more necessary, for those of us who have been chosen to usher in the Return of our risen Master and follow Him into the climactic Ultimate Fulfillment of God’s Plan for Creation that has been prophesied for the Last Days. At that time, we will have to know our Master more deeply and intimately than any previous generation in history has known Him! The Holy Spirit will have to make sure that we’re ready to endure the greatest, most traumatic events and pressures the world has ever seen! So let’s learn everything we can from our first century brethren!
The early disciples had to learn to keep their attention focused exclusively on Yeshua. Why? Because He was the only one who could empower and equip them to persevere in the Faith and overcome the fierce demonic opposition that would try to engulf them! He HAD to teach them to ‘fix their eyes’ on their risen Lord! Only God’s Word would be able to lead them through the demonic ‘minefields’ that were ahead of them! Their union with Him would enable them to endure anything and be able to cut through all the intense pressure and opposition that the mighty Roman Empire would inflict on them. And only He would enable them to withstand the demands of all the idolatrous peoples that would expect them to worship their many false gods and adopt their pagan customs and ways. And only He could empower them to endure the contempt and bitter opposition of their own fellow Jews… the majority of which would continue to refuse to believe, embrace and follow God’s beloved Son, their resurrected Messiah!
Beloved, that apostolic generation had to endure and operate from within a whole range of the most hellish circumstances imaginable! So their training had to develop in them a supernatural toughness of spirit and mind, and the courage, grit and determination and the love for God that would give them the strength needed to stand their ground and persevere and overcome the many ‘Firestorms’ of demon-inspired opposition they would have to face!
So, do you see why I call our disciple training, ‘Boot Camp’? Their training had to exceed the preparation that is required to make the raw recruits of modern day military units able to transform into invincible, combat ready warriors! And there was no way they could have made the wonderful New Covenant beginning that they did without such training! So, if that is what they had to do… what do you think we’re going to need? Our generation will be required to see and endure the disintegration and disappearance of the status quo of the entire world! We’ll have to follow our Master into brand new, never before explored Territory, the Territory of the Grand Fulfillment of every amazing, totally supernatural New Covenant Promise that God has ever made to Israel! And we too will have to swim against the current of all of the demonic powers of Darkness and resist the fierce opposition of the entire non-believing world that our demonic enemies will manipulate into doing their ‘dirty work’!
“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies. Your people will volunteer freely in the Day of Your Power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, your youth are to You, as the dew!” (Psalm 110:1-3)
We’ll gain good insight, if we consider the way the Lord led Peter through an intense, potentially disastrous situation that took place shortly after the Lord began to fill repentant, believing Gentiles with the Holy Spirit and was drawing more and more of them to His New Covenant Jewish congregation, to sit at the feet of His apostles. Those radically new and different ingredients would have caused the apostles more than enough trouble confusion and turmoil. But there was even more for them to deal with. Suddenly, Peter and others, were blindsided by a firestorm of demonic opposition! Here is what happened: Acts 12:1-24 (with Amplification and emphasis added) –
“Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some (Messianic Jews) who belonged to the Church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. When he saw that it (this execution) pleased the (leadership of the unbelieving) Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people (for execution).
“So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains (as peacefully as His Master Yeshua had once slept on a boat, during a deadly storm), and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison.
“And behold, AN ANGEL OF THE LORD suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. And THE ANGEL said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and FOLLOW ME.” And he went out and CONTINUED TO FOLLOW, and he did not know that what was being done by THE ANGEL was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, WHICH OPENED FOR THEM BY ITSELF; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately THE ANGEL departed from him.
“When Peter came to himself, he said, “NOW I KNOW FOR SURE that the Lord has sent forth HIS ANGEL and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
“And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel!”
“But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how THE LORD HAD LED HIM OUT OF PRISON! And he said, “REPORT THESE THINGS to James (Yaakov, the brother of Yeshua) and the brethren.” Then he left and went to another place.
“Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter. When Herod had searched for him and had not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending time there.
“Now he was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and with one accord they came to him, and having won over Blastus the king’s chamberlain, they were asking for peace, because their country was fed by the king’s country. On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”
“And immediately AN ANGEL OF THE LORD struck him because he did not give God the Glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. But THE WORD OF THE LORD (Messiah Yeshua and His Body of disciples) continued to grow and to be multiplied! Acts 12:18-25 Amplification and emphasis added.)
Dear ones… there’s an article in our FMM website’s ‘Biblical Meditations’ section that discusses a similar incident. It is Article no. 21 of the Genesis section, and it’s entitled: ‘Yeshua Visits Abraham’ There you will see that the term, ‘Angel of the Lord’ is rendered in the Hebrew account, as, Angel-YHWH. The Hebrew in this text employs a special literary construct called, s’michut, that connects two words in order to make them into one new entity, the way English does with words like, ‘ball-field’, ‘stair-case’ and ‘match-book’. In this particular case in Genesis, the word for ‘angel’ or, ‘messenger’ is linked to the sacred Proper Name of Almighty God! So we end up with: Angel-YHWH!
This leads me to believe that Moses was writing about Almighty God’s own Personal Living, Creative Word, Yeshua. I say this because only God’s Living Word made flesh could rightly and properly be linked to the sacred Name of Almighty God by a Spirit-inspired writer of Sacred Scripture! Anything short of the Living Word that proceeds directly out from God Himself, would be blasphemy! And Yeshua was referring to many Torah texts, such as the one in Genesis 18:15-18, when He said this to His religious opponents:
“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:45-47)
So perhaps you can understand why I get ‘goose bumps’ up and down my spine when I see what this text in Acts is saying. It mentions that ‘Angel’ or ‘Messenger’ appearing in perceivable form once again. This time He appears to Peter. To me, this is a continuation or carry-over that links Abraham’s experience with God’s Living Word to Peter’s experience in the book of Acts. If that’s true, then we’re seeing God’s Living Word, the risen Messiah of Israel, becoming manifestly present to Peter… and through Peter, also present to the rest of His chosen original New Covenant disciples. So I submit that this is how the Holy Spirit was teaching and training and preparing those early disciples to ‘keep their eyes fixed on Jesus.’ They could do that because His Perfect Presence was permeating them and everything about them, and everything else in existence that they would ever encounter! He is everywhere, constantly! And so wherever any of us is… HE IS!
And this kind of training… to be able to see Yeshua in everything… is going to be necessary for all other disciples, regardless of the historical era or century into which they are born! We must all learn that the Lord is always with us and that it is He (and not we) who must do whatever will be necessary to fulfill Father’s Will and Plan and Standards. Only Almighty God can keep His own Promises to Israel and the world, at any given moment or period of history. And that is what God’s Living Word and Holy Spirit have been sent to do. S0 God’s Living Word is working throughout every portion of Creation… and it’s easy for disciples to keep their eyes on Him because He is everywhere and in everything! We can’t miss Him!
“For 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. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also Head of the Body, the Church; and He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.“ (Colossians 1:16-18 Emphasis added.)
So just as the Angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham, so does He now appear to Peter. And, we can see that He is just as utterly real, alive, active and practically knowable as He was in the Torah! And He interacts with His New Covenant disciples in very practical, effective, world-changing ways. So I believe this is also how the Holy Spirit will make us aware of the Word’s electrifying, All-Sufficient Reality. And so His very real Presence will be abiding in, with, and through each one of us! So we too must know the Lord in this way. We too must learn to rely upon Him in every situation we encounter, especially during the chaos of the Last Days! In fact, I believe we will need to know and see Him even more than the first century apostles did, since we will be participating in the climactic Fulfillment of the New Covenant Era that they were commissioned to initiate!
The New Covenant gives us a supreme advantage in all of this! God has imparted His own Holy Spirit into every one of His true disciples! Did you get that? GOD IS ALWAYS LIVING AND WORKING IN US… AND WE ARE ALWAYS ABLE TO INTERACT WITH HIM AND RECEIVE EVERYTHING WE WILL EVER NEED!
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, WHO IS OUR LIFE, is revealed (when He returns to Earth), then you also will be revealed with Him in Glory!” (Colossians 2:4 Amplification and emphasis added.)
God’s Spirit doesn’t just come upon us intermittently, He is actually living and working from within us…and all around us… full time! He sees to it that each of us can know God’s Living Word, intimately and personally in every one of our personal experiences and situations! He never stops; He never leaves; He’s ALWAYS HERE IN ALL OF HIS PERFECTION AND ALL SUFFICIENCY! This is why our brains and minds must be reconfigured and trained and taught to be with Him like that… to keep our spiritual eyes fixed upon Him so that, just as Yeshua is always here with us… we must learn to always be with Yeshua!
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him,
“I AM (the Living Word of) GOD ALMIGHTY; walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My Covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly!” (Genesis 17:1-2 Amplification and emphasis added.)
So for Last Days New Covenant disciples, to walk blamelessly before God’s Living Word means that we’ve learned to be ever-mindful of, and obediently responsive to, our risen Lord, Messiah Yeshua. When we realize that He is everywhere, operating in everything, all the time, just as He was when He interacted with Adam, Eve, Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then we’ll always be able to take in and digest and absorb His awesome imminent, ever-active Reality into our inner being. And we’ll be able to benefit from the Wisdom, Power, Love, Provision, Protection and Guidance that He is always here to be to us! And as we learn to abide with Him like this, He will keep reflecting His awesome Presence outward, to everyone and everything that is around us, thereby proving that He is truly alive and present to us, and in us at all times, no matter what may or may not be happening to us, or in us, or all around us!
“NOW I KNOW FOR SURE that the Lord has sent forth His Angel and rescued me!”
We too must get to a point where we know and expect Him to be looking out for us at all times. But we can only learn this by training ourselves to ‘live by faith and not by sight.’ And that highly specialized training requires that we sow this Truth into our brains and minds with MASSIVE REPETITION! That is how we will become accustomed to this awesome supernatural, utterly unique disciple lifestyle! As long as we are careless or resistant in this, we will keep forgetting about our Master for long periods of time. We will remain self-centered and radically independent in our focus and thought and reaction patterns. As long as we’re in that dismal state, we’ll never be able to serve as His image and likeness.
So this repetitive training will condition and hardwire us to interact with Him at all times, instinctively and automatically. We’ll continually think, act and react as if His Resurrection is really true, and that He really is with us the way Scripture says He is with us. But those who fail to receive this training will never see or experience these New Covenant wonders. Only by an abiding, airtight faith can this living interaction with God’s Living Word be accessed, experienced, enjoyed and proclaimed. And such a level of faith can only develop within us as a result of massive amounts of repetitive planting of the seeds of this Truth into the fields of our minds, wills and hearts.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs (unbelieving people who reject God’s Word), and do not throw your pearls before swine (the idolatrous Roman oppressors), or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces! (Instead give it to yourselves! And, if they see Me at work in you, they will soon want Me for themselves!)” (Matthew 7:3-6 Amplification added.)
So we must be trained and conditioned to live by airtight faith in the faithfulness of our God… thinking, acting, reacting and interacting AS IF HIS PRESENCE, ABIDING WITH US, IS THE TRUEST, MOST REAL FACT IN ALL OF EXISTENCE! Your brain only listens to you! You are the only one that can train it to make these utterly necessary changes. You must keep telling your own heart what is real, what is false, and what you are ordering your God-given equipment to do! When you convince your own brain and heart that you truly do believe that the Lord is always with you and in you… then, FINALLY, those faculties will work in synchronization with God’s revealed Word… and in that case, they will be working for you all of the time, instead of working against you. And they will finally allow you to access and experience the glory of this Truth!
This is how we can all begin to see and enjoy Him in our midst… as soon as we all truly believe and expect to experience Him! Our Master must be to us, the most Real and Alive and Dependable Reality we will ever be aware of! And this is how this Reality is developed within us… by massive repetition of what He has already revealed to us in this regard. And this is a major part of what I believe it means for true, New Covenant disciples to ‘fix their eyes on Yeshua!’
As long as you doubt that He is here with us, then, naturally, it will not occur to you to interact with Him when you’re in the habit of forgetting and ignoring Him. Instead, you will habitually fix your eyes on a variety of other worldly things… created, tangible, sensory things that will seem more ‘real’ to your brain and heart. Thus you will place such things above the Lord in importance and value, and try to interact with them while you ignore Him. Thus you’ll forget what the written Word of God has revealed, commanded and promised to us. So, beloved, whether you realize it or not, you are always training yourself to be and do one thing or the other. You’re either training yourself to abide with Him, or you’re training yourself to forget about Him and abide with something else that keeps taking His place!
This is why the Holy Spirit continually urges believers to train themselves to be mindful and aware of our Master, to always remember that He is always right here, with each one of us! If we continually agree with and embrace this Truth, we can soon become masters at naturally and spontaneously abiding in His Perfect Presence and interacting with Him and following His every movement. This is what He is here to be and do for us. And this is how we can fix our eyes upon Him and learn to follow Him at all times, and keep drawing everything we need from Him, in Spirit and in Truth. And believe me, we’re really going to need to know this!
So if we’re always interacting with Him and following Him, it’s easy to see that you and I are never the ones who must come up with an agenda. God’s thoughts and ways are infinitely higher and far different than ours. And He has revealed that our Heavenly Father has already chosen the Agenda and has already sent His Word and His Spirit to put the finishing touches on all of the necessary work God has already done to fulfill His own Eternal Agenda! So God’s Word and Holy Spirit are here to manifest the Eternal Glory of all of this. And that is how Father’s Eternal Plan will be progressively revealed to us who live in the dimension of space and time. God’s Word and Spirit will bring what God has already provided for us… to us… from His Eternal Dimension, and impart it to us moment by moment and step by step, as we make our way through this temporary space and time dimension.
So it’s never our place to tell our Master what we want Him to do. It’s always our place to wait upon Him so that He can show us what He is going to reveal to us next… and then we can allow Him to apply to us, what God has already ordained Him to be and do for us. Our Lord has already done all of the Work! Now He is resting with His Father! And so He is here to teach us how to join God in this awesome Rest, by revealing the glories of His Finished Work and applying them to our corresponding needs in time and space.
I believe this revelation is embedded throughout all of the Tanach and also throughout all of the apostolic New Covenant writings. ‘The Angel of the Lord’ or ‘The Living Word of God’ is being revealed throughout. His awesome Perfect Presence is made manifest to this or that apostle and disciple when they are caught up in desperate critical situations. And His All-Sufficient Grace meets each of their needs, to perfection. And just as the first Exodus generation of Israelites were required to learn and live by this awesome Truth, so did the first century generation of New Covenant disciples have to learn the same lesson. Both of those generations were required by God to follow His Living Word and Holy Spirit into totally uncharted Territory! The world around them always obsessed over what it was doing, and what it would continue to try to do in the future. But God was teaching His people to rest in the awesome Perfection and Completeness of what He had already done for them in Eternity Past! And now He’s ready to take us all into that same realm. And for this modern generation, that too is totally unprecedented and unexplored Territory!
The unbelieving world that surrounds us has never before seen or heard or experienced anything that even came close to this awesome God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and what He is continually giving to and being for His Israel Remnant of believing, repentant Jews and Gentiles that believe, obey and follow His Word. In the earlier generations, no one on Earth had ever seen this kind of interactivity between a god and his worshippers… until the Word of the true, Living God began to reveal Himself to Abram… and Joseph and Moses and to all of Israel in the wilderness. And it is the same with this modern world to which we, who are the New Covenant Remnant of Israel, are commissioned to proclaim and reveal and display the awesome Present Reality of Israel’s Resurrected Messiah!
For us to fulfill our purpose, God’s Living Word has to be looking after us at all times… to guide and lead us through all of the demonic Darkness that enshrouds this fallen world… and to provide for all our needs and to protect and guide our every step. He has to be and do everything for us… to prove to the world that all of His revelations, claims, commandments and promises are utterly REAL AUTHENTIC TRUTH!
So that is why He leads His chosen ones into the most desperately dangerous, overwhelming and impossible situations imaginable! He teaches and demonstrates His Perfect Faithfulness and Reliability and Omnipotent Power… in the midst of the worst demonic Darkness, Hopelessness and Danger… through the disciples of His Word! In the midst of all their impossible situations… He PROVES THAT HIS REVELATIONS, CLAIMS AND PROMISES ARE TRUE… by displaying the Unstoppable Power and Perfection and All Sufficiency of His Perfect Finished Works of Creation and Redemption! So what God has already DONE… outlasts, wears down and surpasses whatever the created, demonic enemies of God may ever try to plan and strive to do by their own radically independent devices.
Beloved, can you see why the wilderness was the perfect backdrop for what the Lord had to reveal and teach to Israel throughout the forty years He kept them in that helpless position? He was able to demonstrate, repeatedly, that all they would ever need was… to be with Him, and to know that He was with them… and to trust and rest in Him. And then He would deal with each and every emergency, crisis and need they, and all the succeeding generations of their descendants would ever face, out of the Infinite Treasury of His Perfect Finished Work.
And that is also what He did with the first century disciples! They were always in over their heads! They needed Him for everything, all the time! And… He was always there for them… in everything, all the time! And through their obedient faith… God was able to shine forth through their flesh… so that His Living Word and Holy Spirit could serve as ‘The Light of the World!’ And that is what keeps drawing more and more repentant Jews and Gentiles into our New Covenant Family!
This is what disciple ‘Boot Camp’ must teach all of us who say we want to know and serve and interact with God. We must learn to do it on God’s terms! And so this is what we all have to learn to be and do… so we can be prepared to stand and hold and protect the New Covenant ‘God-in-us’ Ground that Father has entrusted to us. This is how we can learn to persevere… and resist the Serpent’s lies and traps… and OVERCOME everything and anything our demonic enemies place in our Path!
“Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. THE LORD IS NEAR! BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7 Emphasis added.)
“For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “LIGHT shall shine out of Darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the LIGHT of the knowledge of the GLORY OF GOD in the face of Christ!
“But we have this TREASURE in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing Greatness of the POWER will be OF GOD and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 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 (Resurrection) LIFE OF JESUS also may be manifested in our mortal flesh!” (2 Corinthians 4:5-11 Emphasis added.)
The original New Covenant disciples did not have ‘church buildings’ or fancy ‘worship centers.’ They didn’t have computers, phones, rapid transit, TV’s, radios or iPads. And they most certainly did not ever think in terms of ‘going to church.’ They had synagogues, but there was not even one ‘Christian church building’ in existence until around the year 320 CE! They didn’t have any of the religious ‘crutches’ we believe we can’t do without. But they did have one thing that seems to be missing among most modern day ‘believers’… THEY HAD GOD’S PRESENCE!
So they didn’t think about ‘going to church’, and focusing on organized, scheduled upcoming ‘Christian events and activities’. For that generation, there was only one Reality on which to focus: TO BE HIS LIVING TEMPLE… HIS HOLY OF HOLIES! Their beloved Yeshua had risen from the dead! He was alive, and before He ascended, He had proven to them repeatedly that He would always be with them and in them and would be working… through them! So they only thought about ‘BEING His Body… because God’s awesome Presence was always in all of them!
This is what was happening in those early days… throughout whatever city or region they populated… there was only one Body… one Church… for they were all in their one Messiah, and their risen Messiah was in each one of them! They thought in terms of the Lord’s living members coming together, to be with each other so that the Lord could abide and interact with and continue to manifest His present Reality through all the members of His earthly Body… all at the same time! Whether they happened to be alone, or in the presence of the other brethren, or in the presence of unbelieving strangers, each one was always in the Lord’s awesome Presence. And they knew He was in everything He had ever created, so by faith, they saw Him everywhere and in everything maintaining, sustaining and being Preeminent. And that is the Reality Basis upon which they were all being trained to ‘keep their eyes fixed on Yeshua!’
This was how God will have to teach, train and equip our generation too. Our boot camp training is perpetual because our Trainer and Drill Instructor is always with us, and there is no end to knowing Him and His ways. So we must be trained to sit continually at His feet, as His disciples, day and night. His Presence is IN us; and we are always IN Him! So how could we not be one with each of the other believers? If we do not know this and practice living it out, then the only alternative is for the unity and oneness in Spirit that Yeshua died to make possible, is quickly forgotten and replaced by the works of selfish, self-centered, self-serving fallen human flesh… and that is what leads to confusion, division, strife and rampant sectarianism… such as we see everywhere in our day.
But in Peter’s day, when one of those original disciples experienced the Lord’s Reality and Faithfulness in an outstanding and significant way, they made sure that all the others would hear about it! Thus the faith of the entire Family was always kept fresh and alive and growing! The ‘left hand always knew what the right hand was doing’ – to express and reveal their common Head. They knew that the Holy Spirit had made all of them to be living members of the Lord’s One Body on Earth. So, because the Lord was living in each one, each one was being continually included in whatever the Lord, who was their Life, happened to be doing anywhere in the world, wherever any of the disciples might be deployed! So on that basis, how could they not be ONE… one with God and one with each other?
Even when they saw the Lord doing something in one of their number at a far distance, they knew that since the Lord was living in them all, they were all included in whatever was happening there! Time and the distance no longer mattered! And that’s how it is with us too. God’s Eternity and Infinity are at work in all of us because we are all… His one Body and He is the Life of each one of us… and He is operating in all of us simultaneously! That’s why He said to Saul of Tarsus, “Why are you persecuting Me?”
This awesome New Covenant Reality includes each child of God in whatever God’s Word and Spirit are doing in any place in the universe! Regardless of which part of the Body may be under consideration, past, present or future, we are all participants in what God is doing anywhere! And, as this Reality continues to be realized and appropriated and absorbed into our hearts… our faith in Him will be fed, watered, fortified, strengthened, increased and multiplied. Each one of us has the Holy Spirit… each one of us is one with God… so whatever our risen Lord does for one of us, He is doing it for all of us! We are all one with Him. And He is with and in each one of us. That means that we are one with each other as well!
To learn and master this Truth is to ‘fix our eyes upon Yeshua’… and keep them fixed on Him permanently. We learn to see Him in ourselves… and in our circumstances… and we learn to see Him in each other and in all the circumstances of all of our other brethren. He is everything to all of us! So, after receiving sufficient training, we can all expect Him to be present at all times and in all things and in all places, without exception. Our job is to became so convinced that He is with us at all times, ready to intervene and guide us through whatever we have to face or endure or overcome, that nothing will be able to stop us from advancing and multiplying and growing and spreading all across the earth!
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
We will do what those awesome original New Covenant disciples did, as soon as we learn to Rest in the awesome Finished Work of our risen Lord. When we know that everything has already been done by God, we’ll never have to try to force anything to happen, for we will know that He, in all of His Perfection, is permeating every situation and circumstance and creature. We won’t have to try to ram anything down the throats of other people. We won’t have to impose our will or manipulate anyone into doing anything! Not one life will have to be taken, nothing will have to be destroyed or stolen or broken or taken from anyone. The Lord Himself has done all of the necessary work! So it’s not about us doing anything extra to help Him out. Our task is to learn to Rest and Rejoice in Him and with Him, in the presence of His demonic enemies, as He displays the glorious Perfection of His Finished Work before their eyes, from within our circumstances and needs!
“At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you Rest! Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find Rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light!” (Matthew 11:25-30)
Because of the intense dangers and hostile opposition they had to face, Yeshua had to be as close to each one of them as was divinely and humanly possible! They had to know Him so they could actually interact with Him by faith. And so, just as He was one with Moses when he had to face the infuriated pharaoh, and when he had to lead the whole nation of Israel through the deadly barren emptiness and the impossible dangers of the desolate wilderness, so is He one with the children of Israel throughout their entire history, to the present day, regardless of present circumstances.
And that is what we are commissioned and empowered to share in and to demonstrate and teach to the rest of the world, as this final age of time and space reaches its conclusion! God wants all men to know that what was true for each one of His Son’s chosen disciples in the past, can also be true for each one of us, NOW! The New Covenant is ready to make all of us to be one with God… and one with Israel and therefore… one with each other!
I pray that I’m expressing this adequately. I’m trying to say that when our Master appeared to one disciple… then through the testimony of that one… He was actually appearing to and touching and including all the rest! This is one of the wonderful supernatural realities that God conveys to us through the Scriptures! They show us through all the events it records, that what God does to some of His Covenant people, is exactly what He is doing with all of us who become one with His Word! Through those inspired accounts, He reaches out to each one of us and lets us know that what He was to Abraham, or Moses, or Joshua or Peter or Paul or John or any of the others… He is just as truly being for all the rest of us!
God’s Eternal Covenant makes us all to be ONE! So He’s making sure we know that whatever He does for His people from whom time and space separate us, nevertheless, He has included each one of us with whatever He was doing for any of them, and vice versa! He is always covering each one of us! His Perfect Presence and Grace are like electrical Power that circulates simultaneously to and through each and every one of us who is connected to His ‘Blood Covenant Grid’! He accompanies each one of us throughout each event of each day or night! What He was and what He did visibly and tangibly, for Abraham, Moses, and Peter, and all the rest, He was also really and actively doing for us, because we are all one… one with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Peter, Paul, Stephen, and so on. So we are all designed, created, commissioned and now… also perfectly equipped by the Holy Spirit, to abide and ‘stick together’ in our thoughts, words, actions, reactions and interactions! For we are all living, Spirit-filled members of the one eternal corporate Family of THE PERFECT ONE!
We are all able to learn to follow and abide with Him in the same way… not only by what happens to us personally, but also by what happens to our brothers and sisters in God’s written Word, and by the living eye witness testimonies of our contemporary brothers and sisters who live, suffer, persevere and overcome today, all around the world. As the Spirit of His Father directs Yeshua to lead us… we can all learn to follow Him, by sharing with each other and learning from each other, and caring and interceding for each other.
“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, YOU DID IT TO ME!’” (Matthew 25:40 Emphasis added.)
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into ALL THE TRUTH; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He WILL TAKE OF MINE AND WILL DISCLOSE IT TO YOU! All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you (as a corporate Body, and also on behalf of each individual).” (John 16:12-15 Amplification and emphasis added.)
As we practice and drill and learn to be ever mindful of His Perfect omnipresent Reality… we gradually become adept at allowing our awesome God to live and work and interact with and in us. We can do it individually, and also corporately. This is how REAL and ALIVE and PRESENT the New Covenant makes Him to be to all of us! We are connected to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who were in the beginning… and we’re connected to all those who came after them, leading up to the present moment of the newest member of the Lord’s New Covenant Body!
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God; the Lord is ONE! (Deuteronomy 6:4)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, FOR YOU ARE WITH ME; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows!” (Psalm 23:4-5 Emphasis added.)
Notice how the Lord taught Peter and the other believers, through that one incident in which He led him out of the confinement of Herod’s prison. First of all, the Holy Spirit made sure that all of Peter’s fellow disciples had heard about it and were already in their proper position – praying fervently on his behalf. Thus they were consciously united in spirit, as one body, one soul and one activity. What was happening to Peter… was happening to them. And what they were doing was being applied to Peter, through them. Peter was brought before the Throne of God to receive God’s Covenant response to his dire need. So they were all included in what was happening to Peter, and vice versa. Peter’s reality was also happening in their spirits and in their corporate midst, even as Peter was experiencing it in that prison. While that intense intercession was taking place, the Holy Spirit made the Reality and Truth of the risen Lord Yeshua, real, present, alive and totally fruitful in and through all of the members of the Family. They were all united in Yeshua… for Peter’s sake. And the Lord was revealing Himself to Peter, for the sake of all of his fellow disciples. And on that basis, this is what followed:
An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell. (So notice that, in Peter’s sphere of awareness, the Lord took on a recognizable, tangible form, and then He began to lead and guide Peter’s movements. And Peter kept following Him.)
He struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. (Supernatural changes that were very practical and tangible and utterly true, took place around Peter, for Peter… to bless and instruct all the others… including us.)
And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. (The Lord began to lead Peter step by step… and Peter followed Him step by step. Thus he was continuing to be trained to live out the habitual, never-changing, New Covenant disciple lifestyle that God has made possible for us all.)
And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and continued to follow… (Do you see what was happening beloved? Thanks to the awesome Gift of the Holy Spirit, our risen Lord was right there with Peter, regardless of what the circumstances or situation might be. And because He was with Peter, the circumstances didn’t matter. And because He was with Peter, He was also with all of the brethren who were one with Peter. That’s right… because despite all our personal, subjective limitations, failings, quirks and disabilities, we are all one with our Perfect Covenant Representative! So, when our Representative was revealing Himself to Peter, we were there with Him too, in Yeshua! And so we were also with Peter and with the other interceding disciples… in Yeshua and through Yeshua! And they are all with us, as we go through our daily trials and challenges and pleasant and unpleasant situations, in Him. The Lord wants us to know that He is just as close to us now, to every one of us, as He was to Peter and the others then. And this is true for us all… all the time!)
When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself… (More supernatural changes kept taking place around Peter, and for Peter. The Lord kept proving to Peter, and the others, that He was with Peter and is also with all of us… in that miraculous, practical and ever-faithful way! So… He kept leading and Peter kept following Him. And that is what we are supposed to learn to do as well.)
And they went out and went along one street, and (as soon as Peter’s dire need had been met) immediately the Angel departed from him. (Acts 12:7-10)
The ability the Holy Spirit gave to Peter to perceive Yeshua’s Presence in a visible, tangible way suddenly stopped when the immediate crisis was over and his need had been met. Suddenly Peter could no longer know Him by sight… He had to return to the habitual New Covenant way of knowing and interacting with Him, by faith. But what the Lord had recently showed him so tangibly… was unmistakable and unforgettable PROOF, confirmation and reassurance, that what was true when Peter could see the Angel… is also true even when we cannot see or hear or feel His Presence. He is always with all of us, and each of us! So now, thanks to the revelation we all received… even though most of the time we can’t see Him… we can know for sure that He is with us always, and will apply to us whatever is needed, as the occasion requires, without fail!
So the Holy Spirit was teaching and training Peter and the other brethren, to realize and believe, like never before, that… thanks to this awesome New Covenant Reality that God had made available to His chosen ones… the Resurrection Presence of our Messiah is forever in Peter and with Peter. And He was teaching Peter that the same is true about all the other disciples… including those who were praying for him… and those of us that live in later generations, and also those of us who are the Last Days disciples, many centuries later. The Lord is in us and with us… in the past, and in the present, and for all of eternity! He is always ready to be Everything to all of us, NOW!… simultaneously!
“But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living…!” (Mark 12:26-28a)
So, as He trains me, for example, in my own personal ‘Boot Camp’ regimen… just like He revealed it to Peter when he was in jail… and like He revealed it to and through Moses in the wilderness and when He revealed it to and through Stephen when he was in deep trouble before the Sanhedrin… so is He is revealing that He is with me… and He’s revealing that He is also with you, at the very same time! He is with each one of us regardless of whether we have to face a seemingly impossible, overwhelming disaster that is bearing down on us, or whether we’re caught in the monotony of the most trivial, apparently unimportant event or assignment we may have to endure at any given time. The fact remains: no one who belongs to this awesome Covenant Family is ever excluded from anything that our awesome God is, or does!
So, in my case, when it’s time to decide what our family will have for the day’s evening meal… it is the Lord who is living and operating from within me. But because you and Yeshua are in each other, you are there with me too! And when something is going on with you, I and all the others are also there with you… through Yeshua! His Life is what operates and empowers and teaches and guides us all. He is operating from within me… as He and I vacuum the house, or clean the toilet and bathroom. He is with me as we clean snow off the driveway and sidewalks. He’s with me when we do laundry… and when we write out the latest FMM ‘download’ that Father is currently entrusting to our stewardship. He’s with me as we drive, or as we take our little dog, Stuey, for a walk. It doesn’t matter what or when or where it is… HE IS HERE WITH ME… AND YOU ALSO ARE HERE WITH ME… AND I AM ALSO THERE WITH YOU… IN THE VERY SAME WAY, AT THE VERY SAME TIME… BECAUSE HE IS IN ALL OF US ALL THE TIME HERE ON EARTH AND FOREVERMORE THROUGHOUT ETERNITY!
This is how we can learn to keep our eyes ‘fixed on Jesus.’ How can we not focus on Him, since He is everywhere, and in everything, on every level? The Holy Spirit is motivating and energizing and making all of us aware of things we need to know. He’s letting us know all the things Father wants His Word to be able to do or say or give to others… from within each one of us. God is doing it all. He is displaying the awesome results of the Perfect Work His Word has already done. All of that comes to us here in time and space… from Eternity! And the Holy Spirit is training you and me to desire what our Father desires, and to embrace and absorb and embody whatever He wants Yeshua to be and to do from within us. God is the Original… and we are the ‘image and likeness’ of the Original… because we do everything together with His Word, as one. And this is what our boot camp training is meant to burn into our hearts and souls. This is how we ‘follow.’
Nothing is too big or too important for this interaction. And nothing is too trivial and unimportant for God to participate in. He is with us to be our ALL, in all things. And in this simple, ‘in all things’ and ‘at all times’ way… He was teaching and training the early disciples… and doing all of the work through them. Stephen is a good example:
“Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the (apostolic focus on protecting and assigning to our Lord’s flock, the overall corporate giving of the) Word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word (that is, teaching and training the brethren that the Lord has entrusted to our care).”
“The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. The Word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the (Levitical temple) priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
(So notice that, although Stephen and his fellow workers had tasks that seemed, by carnal worldly standards, to be much less in importance than those of the apostles, that was most certainly not the case! It didn’t matter what job was being done, nor did it matter which disciple was doing it, or where. What mattered was that it was the risen Lord who was doing all those things in each one of them! Everything was important because God’s Living Word was the Preeminent One who was the source and heart and center of everything! That gave equally, to each disciple, the awesome Validity, Honor, Dignity and Importance of God’s Word, in God’s sight. Whatever was happening to anyone and in anyone who was in their midst, was coming to them all from the risen Messiah, the Son of God!)
And Stephen, full of Grace and Power, (just like Peter and the other apostles, was embodying the Lord’s indwelling Presence. And the Lord, through Stephen,) was performing great wonders and signs among the people! But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen (just as they were arguing with and opposing the apostles). But they were unable to cope with the Wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking!
“Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.” (Acts 6 Amplification and emphasis added.)
Beloved, can you see what the Holy Spirit is telling us here? The unbelieving Jewish religious leaders were fixing their eyes and ears on the disciple Stephen, not to mention all the other disciples that they were keeping under their hostile scrutiny. And that’s what the unbelieving world that is around us will always be doing to us! They seem to obsess over believers, and are always seeking ways by which to expose and criticize us, so they might disprove and demean the Truth we stand upon and erase the risen Lord that we are here to embody and proclaim. But that is precisely what God wants them to do! He is setting the world up when He piques their curiosity, even if it is prompted by malicious intent! Because of that, they keep looking at us and are ready to pounce on every word we say. And as they do… they inevitably are drawn into closer contact with the Lord who is living and working within us, and radiating toward them, from within us! And in that way, Almighty God is able to pierce and penetrate their hearts!
So that is how the Holy Spirit sets His traps for the people of the unbelieving world. God moves them to watch us… because when they do… they begin to get in touch with the risen Lord who is always in us and revealing Himself through us! Stephen and the other disciples were under intense scrutiny; but at the same time, by that very fact, they were being taught and trained by the Holy Spirit to maintain their focus on their risen Messiah! So the world kept focusing on the disciples… but the disciples remained firmly focused on their risen Lord! So the world sensed the risen Lord… as He was being reflected to them, through the highly trained and disciplined focus of the disciples!
“… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of faith… (Hebrews 12:1b-2a)
So I ask you: whose Glow were the members of the Sanhedrin seeing, as they beheld Stephen’s face? Who was shining through to them, from within this humble disciple? Whose Glow was the face of Stephen reflecting out to the needy widows and the other disciples, and to all of the unbelieving Jewish and non-Jewish people that surrounded them all? Beloved… the Lord was teaching Stephen to ‘follow Him’ as His Lord served the widows through his flesh! And He was teaching this to Peter, while he was in prison. He taught him to follow Him… past the guards… and out of the gates! The Lord also taught Stephen to follow Him, step by step, while He served food to the households of those widows! The Lord’s ministry to the widows was the training sector of the New Covenant Disciple Boot Camp to which Stephen was assigned. That’s where he was learning to abide with and interact with and depend upon his risen Lord! And, thanks to that training, later… when it was time for Stephen to follow his Master into the Arena of Testimony for the last time… he was fully prepared to give a glorious Testimony to His Lord that still echoes and reverberates throughout the halls of Eternity to this very day!
Serving the widows helped Stephen to get ready even for that ultimate sacrificial act of devotion to His Lord! But any other venue would have been just as effective and just as good, for the Lord was always with him at all times and in all things!
“You are the Light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the Lampstand, and it gives Light to all who are in the House. Let your Light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven!” (Matthew 5:14-16)
So, Stephen had to keep his eyes focused upon Yeshua, as the Lord continued to work from within him… to fulfill those humble servant duties on behalf of the widows! This is how he was learning to keep his eyes ‘fixed upon Jesus’! He was being trained to rivet his conscious, obedient attention upon His abiding, indwelling Lord, who was always living and leading and doing all of the work, from within him. And so Stephen became like a living, moving ‘mirror’… when the people around him looked at him, they saw, heard and felt the Presence of the risen Lord!
Doesn’t the account of what the Sanhedrin saw radiating from Stephen’s face remind you of someone else whose face also glowed as a result of having been in the habit of abiding in the Presence of the Living Word of God? Was Stephen really guilty of doing what Israel’s religious establishment was accusing him of doing? Was he really trying to change or contaminate the teachings and customs Moses had handed down to the nation of Israel? No, of course not! He was actually learning to live with the Living Word of God, just as Moses had done in the wilderness! He was abiding with the Word… the way Moses abided with Him. And… the people around both of those men saw Yeshua’s reflected Glory radiating from the face of each one!
“It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone BECAUSE OF HIS SPEAKING WITH HIM. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him!” (Exodus 34:30)
So I submit for your consideration that this is what Father wants our FMM Ministry Family to learn to be and do, while we still have time to practice and prepare for what is coming. And this is what our Boot Camp Training and all of the apparent impossibilities we face and all of the persecution and opposition the powers of Darkness will throw against us will be intended to bring out and highlight and drill into our very being in the days to come.
“And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:25-27 Emphasis added.)
The powers of Darkness always do everything they can think of to try to extinguish that awesome ‘Word of God Afterglow’ from the faces of people like Moses and Stephen and innumerable others. But have they succeeded beloved? No they have not! The Lord’s Light is becoming more intense and is glowing ever more brilliantly in the faces of more and more disciples in this generation. And so… just as the powers of Darkness failed to stop those who went before us… so too will they fail to stop us… or any others who may come after us!
Our enemies cannot succeed in overcoming us… as long as we remain faithful to our FMM Marching Orders and abide in God’s Eternal Truth! Those orders articulate what the Lord of Glory is here to be to us. And that is why the Boot Camp training to which He must subject us is always all about our ability to respond to the Reality of our God and His Truth. So… if we submit to and cooperate with what the Holy Spirit is here to teach us to be and do… we too will use every word of Scripture, and each daily action, reaction and interaction we experience as ‘raw material’ for training and disciplining ourselves to keep our awareness, of our ever-present Messiah, keen and sharp. We’ll keep the conscious focus of our attention permanently fixed and trained on the Truth and Reality that our risen Lord’s Perfect indwelling Presence is within us and everywhere around us!
It is in Him that we are required to soak and marinate our minds, wills, imaginations and hearts. It is into His Perfect abiding Presence that we can sink our heart’s ‘intake tubes’. God’s Living Word is the abiding Treasure into which we can always sink our mental and emotional and volitional ‘roots’. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob learned to do this. Joseph, Moses, Joshua and Caleb learned to do it. Israel’s prophets learned to do it. And those precious, faithful first century New Covenant apostles and the Jewish and non-Jewish disciples that surrounded them, were learning to do it too.
And because of the wonderful New Covenant beginning they allowed the Lord to make from within them… we have the opportunity to learn to allow the Lord to finish what He started with the apostles! Beloved… now it’s our turn to take the Torch of Revelation and run with it! Now we must be the generation that masters this ‘Heavenly Martial Art’… and develop it to the highest level and degree, just as our Father has always envisioned and ordained!
So our Boot Camp training must teach us that it doesn’t matter what is happening to us, in us, or around us. It doesn’t matter where we are or who we’re with, or what we may be forced to do or endure at any given time… Whatever it may be… all the while we are forced to experience it… the risen Lord is filling in all of our human blanks… He is the one that completes and fulfills and perfects us… by living and acting and manifesting His Perfect Finished Work… through us! We must learn to allow Him to do this, as individuals, and also as His corporate Body. This is what the New Covenant’s Royal Priesthood is here to be and to do! So let our risen Lord be the Rock upon which we all rest, and let Him be the Life Source from which each one of us draws everything. Let Him be our one and only Shepherd, Defender, Provider and Guide… the Spring of Living Water that gushes forth to being every dead thing in this fallen world back to Eternal Life!
So, when one of us is in trouble… let the Presence of Yeshua within us stand before our Heavenly Father, as our Eternal High Priest… to intercede on behalf of the precious one that happens to be in need. In this way, we will be embodying Him, as He watches the back of every one of us, and covers us all, under the Shadow of His Wings!
God, through the agency of His Living Word and Holy Spirit, is the Ultimate Servant! He is abiding throughout all of His Creation… to give Life, and to sustain and protect and nurture that Life that He imparts to each one of His creatures. He gives every one of us each of our breaths, heartbeats and brain waves. He gives us every ability and skill and talent and accomplishment we will ever enjoy or share with others. He is serving us all, at all times. And so, it is the honor and privilege of each New Covenant disciple of God’s Word to embody and express Him… as He serves His Creation through us!
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, TAKING THE FORM OF A BOND SERVANT, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the Name which is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in Heaven and on Earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; FOR IT IS GOD WHO IS AT WORK IN YOU, BOTH TO WILL AND TO WORK for His good pleasure!
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD, HOLDING FAST THE WORD OF LIFE, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Philippians 2:3-16)
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” (John 13:1-7)
Hopefully… our boot camp will cause us to become the living embodiment of ‘The Servant of all servants’. And we can eagerly anticipate what will happen if we do learn to do that, because when the Harvest Time comes, and the Reward of what He has given to us to sow into ourselves and into whoever is around us… will finally appear… we will share in His Triumph and in the Glory of His Eternal Covenant Inheritance!
“So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them!” (John 13:12-17)
At times, our situations will seem to be, and feel as if, there is no hope and we have no chance of finishing the course that is set before us. But don’t fix your gaze on those roiling, ever-changing circumstances or feelings. They come and go and are utterly unstable. Don’t sink your roots into that! Fix your gaze on the awesome Depths and Eternal Stability of The Rock, the Infinite, Eternal, Uncreated One who underlies all temporal created reality; HE ABIDES FOREVER! So let your faith in His Perfection penetrate past the temporary things, and all the way down to the granite-solid Depths of God’s Eternity! Keep your gaze fixed upon The Eternal One who abides in Eternal Infinite Changeless Perfection and Splendor. The Eternal Word of our Eternal God is our Perfect Sabbath Joy, Peace, outrageous Confidence… and everlasting Rest!
Join Him in His Perfect Fullness… and then let the scenarios of the Last Days play themselves out. When everything temporary has come and gone… all that will remain for Eternity is… THE PERFECT ONE… OUR FATHER! And He is the one that has THE FIRST AND LAST WORD!
“But when the Son of Man comes in His Glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious Throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left…” (Matthew 25:31-33)
Beloved… when you allow God’s Living Word to live and work from within you… you allow Him to ‘wash the feet’ of His entire Creation. And when He can bless others through you, in your name, you are blessing Him! (Matthew 25:34-40)
“I have manifested Your Name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.
“I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your Name, the Name, which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your Name, which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My Joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your Word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the Truth; Your Word is Truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in Truth.” (John 17:6-19)
Beloved, when the Lord uttered this incomprehensible eternal prayer to His Father… He had you in mind! He was talking about each one of us, and He was consciously and deliberately including you in all that is His!
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