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Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 2/29/04

"Jesus said to him, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6, New Recovery Version).

In our times of fellowship together, Lenny and I and Connie Miller (my Medicalodge angel), often bask in the awareness we all have come to that when God's love pours out upon the thirsty human landscape, there will be no need for words. Those of us who deal in words daily use them the best we can to describe what we see and feel and hope for in Spirit, but more and more I am made aware of how inadequate they are to convey the unconditional love of God on a deep level. Last week's lesson, "The Passion of God" (See link at end), was a case in point. Though Connie and I have learned not to judge by appearances, nevertheless, it seemed to me, at least, that the dear old Saints didn't get the impact of what I was saying.

After the service, because Connie had plans with her husband, I went to the nearby convenience store to get a cappuccino. I shared in my report last week about the scruffy looking young man there, who offered to pay for my drink when I was counting out change. He looked like he would feel more at home with bikers than with a church group, but I saw kindness, concern, and something more in his eyes as we parted. Later in the afternoon, I asked the Lord if, in fact, he was an angel, which I suspected as I was leaving the store. He said, "In a way. He was my messenger to show you that who I am in you is so much stronger than any words." It was an answer to the prayer I had offered at the close of the Medicalodge service in which I had asked for the Holy Spirit to so fill us with Christ that He would flow out in abundance to all we meet, who will know Him by simply being in our presence. He gave me a small but exciting experience of what that would be like.

In a world gone mad with lust for power and possessions, a world which has no time for God in the pursuit of mammon, power and prestige, words are cheaper by the dozen. I suspect many of us have spoken millions of words about God, prayed thousands of prayers for the lost and dying, and still stand by helplessly to watch happen what seems to happen regularly. Nothing. At least nothing that we can see. Into a world of political and national turmoil, religious unrest and hopeless denigration by the Roman overlords, Jesus was born. From the time that Nebuchadnezzar had sacked Jerusalem and carried off the best and brightest Jews to Babylon in 597 BCE, Israel was never again an independent nation under it's own rule and reign, until 1948, when the state of Israel was formed. Smarting from political servitude and psychological slavery, the Jews were looking for Messiah to fulfill the promises God made to them through the prophets.

For example, Isaiah had prophesied to King Hezekiah, "Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this" (II Kings 19:30-31, NIV). This verse has thrilled me for decades because it speaks of the elect, who take root below (on earth) and bear fruit above (in Spirit). The elect will come out of Jerusalem, our spiritual mother, who is free (Gal. 4:26) and will accomplish that which the Lord God Almighty has purposed from before the foundation of the world. And by far the most thrilling concept here is that it is the ZEAL OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY which will accomplish this. We don't depend on our works, our faith, our determination and dedication to get results. Everything rests upon HIM, upon the finished work of Christ in us, the remnant, the elect.

What Paul said about the first century Jews is certainly true of many Christians today, "I know from experience what a passion for God they have, but alas, it is not a passion based on knowledge" (Rom. 10:2, Phillips). Jonathan Mitchell translated it, "For I am habitually testifying to them (or: For I can repeatedly bear witness for them) that they constantly hold God's zeal (or: they continuously have a boiling jealously {a hot aspiration} concerning God), but, however, not down from (in accordance with) full and accurate experiential knowledge and recognition." Perhaps I would do no injustice to the meaning of the text if I suggest it be translated, "and now have a passion not based on revelation." Without the Spirit to interpret it to our hearts, the written word is just more law which kills.

Christ is God's love letter to the world, and our hearts are the tablets upon which this letter is written. Paul wrote the Corinthians, "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" (II Cor. 3:2-3, NIV). After saying that our confidence comes from God through Christ (Vs. 4), he adds, "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (Vs. 5-6).

We're all wired differently. Lenny is a mystic, an intuitive person who functions a lot by feelings; I'm a cognitive, intellectual person, meaning I live in my head and file by ideas and thoughts. Yet, more and more, I see that thoughts, ideas and feelings without the Spirit's illumination are but filthy rags, impossible to reflect the glory of God to the world. God made us all the way we are. In our mother's womb, He formed us and shaped us the way He wanted us to be. Because we are so different, it would appear improbable that we could ever agree on anything. One denomination I know was formed with the idea held dear by its founding fathers, that men and women could read the bible and then recreate the New Testament Church. It sounds like an attractive idea until you realize the difficulty of getting two people to agree on anything. When we were in Israel, our Israeli guide said of modern day Jews, "Where you find two Jews, you'll find six differing opinions." We chuckled because that's true of many people in the US, as our political candidates know only too well.

In spite of that, most denominations are composed of people who more or less grudgingly agree on basic doctrine. Brainwashing goes a long way toward accomplishing this goal, but in the end, it fails because doctrine always fails, for there is no power in it. Paul warned Timothy, "They will maintain a facade of "religion" but their life denies its truth. Keep clear of people like that" (II Tim. 3:5, Phillips). Paul said we should be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3, RSV). I like Jonathan Mitchell's translation: "repeatedly hurrying to make every effort to constantly keep (watch over to guard) the Spirit's oneness (unity of the spirit) within the bond (the link or tie that joins two things) of the Peace [= the Shalom]." This translation makes it clear that Paul is not talking about agreeing on doctrine, but seeing, probably only by revelation, the Spirit's oneness.

In the 70's we sang a little chorus that went something like, "We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord and they will know we are Christians by our love." Since beginning this Internet ministry, I've had the joyous and very different experience for me, of meeting Christians who love the Lord, follow the Spirit's leading, but have different interpretations of things than I do. You say, "How can that be? If you are both following the same Spirit, how can you come up with a different idea?" To me, it's about where we are along the path. People describe this journey in various ways. Some illustrate our differences in terms of Days: First Day or Second Day or Third Day Ministry. Others refer to the same thing as Passover (salvation), Pentecost (filling of the Holy Spirit), and Tabernacles, (reconciliation of all). Lenny boils it down to, "the amount of light God has given each." Some Christians are midwives, birthing babes into Christ. Others are school teachers for older children; and some are fathers, imparting wise counsel and correction. Again Lenny reminds us that we're not all the same part of the body of Christ, and Paul adds, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4:4-6, RSV).

I see the path back home to God as The Glory Road, full of twists and turns, winding through valleys of despair, climbing mountains of fear and worry, traversing icy crevasses, and slogging through arid, burning deserts, but in the end, there is only one destination for everyone, as we arrive back home to God the Father of us all. HOW we get there matters not as much as knowing that we WILL GET THERE in His time. The nation is polarized over political agendas and splintered by religious dogmas, but in spite of that, God knows where we are and will lead us to where He wants us to go. It may be a circuitous route, but all roads lead home.

As I wring my hands over my writings each week, attempting to be clear and precise, to have correct scriptural references, proper grammar and punctuation, I am realizing more and more that important as all this may seem to my structured mind, it is less important than what the Spirit does with my words. I'm weary of words, tired of hearing about and seeing broken bodies and minds, sagging spirits and dysfunctional emotions. Yet I know that all are part of God's grand plan.

An excellent illustration of this plan is found in the 22nd chapter of Numbers, a story about Balak, king of Moab who saw the children of Israel swarming over the Canaanite cities, destroying every nation in their path. He was terrified, full of dread saying, "This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field" (Num. 22:4). He hatched up a two bit plan to hire Balaam to work his pagan divination and put a curse on them. It's good entertainment so I encourage you to read it yourself, but the upshot is that the Lord spoke to Balaam directly and said, "You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed" (Vs. 12). By inference, Balaam was guilty of occult sins which would have called for stoning under the law, but nevertheless, when God spoke, he listened. Three times he went out with Balak, who expected that Moab's enemies would be cursed, and three times, Balaam blessed them instead. This isn't because he was spiritual. Even his ass had more revelation than he did, for the poor beast turned aside when the angel of the Lord appeared in the path (Vs. 21-35), but God is supreme over kings, over sorcerers, and over asses. "Balaam said to Balak, "Lo, I have come to you! Have I now any power at all to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak" (Num. 22:38, RSV). Mature sons of God know this truth as well. The word that God puts in our mouths, and only that word must we speak!

Last week, John Gavazzoni had sent us an e-mail with comments by a man who was discussing the meaning of baptism. He wrote, "The word Baptizing does not necessarily always mean the act of baptizing or might I say the ceremony of ordinance of baptism. It also carries the meaning: to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed. So this scripture (Matt. 28:19-20) might be seen as to say: "Go submerge or cover the nations with "Name" and all aspects of it; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and leave out nothing that I have taught you." End Quote.

I found that to be a fascinating translation, especially in light of this verse: "I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (I Cor. 10:1,2, RSV). Clearly the Israelites were NOT "dunked" in the Red Sea, but rather, passed through it, the waters being piled up on either side. They were in the midst of the Sea. I was immediately caught up to the Throne and saw in Spirit that when we are baptized into Christ, it is not just a one time occurrence. Rather, we are immersed into the midst of Him all the time! He is piled up on either side of us, saving us from sin and the flesh. In that sense, baptism is to our salvation what the Red Sea was to the Israelites' deliverance from Egypt.

In the midst of the "sea of Christ," we are transformed from pathetic and powerless slaves fleeing our taskmasters in Egypt, to sons of the Most High, protected by Him with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. No harm can befall us as we travel in Him. We are truly journeying in the palm of His hand.

My family suffers from "travel worries," excessively and neurotically. If you get out on the highway, goes the fear thinking, you'll probably end up dead in the ditch. To help me deal with family members' fears, and my own, I have begun to say, "I'm traveling in the palm of God's hand." I'm not sure if they know what I mean, or if it helps their worries, but it really deals with mine completely.

Paul said to the Corinthian brethren, "and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (I Cor. 2:4, RSV). As I've come to realize, whether we can see it or not, the power is there because we are IN Christ where all power resides. To the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, "for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake" (I Thess. 1:5, RSV).

In times when I despair of too many words and too little power, I remind myself that it is not my words which count, but the Holy Spirit's quickening of them to anther's heart which matters. The Hebrew writer expressed it gloriously: "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high," (Heb. 1:1-3, RSV). Jonathan Mitchell's translation reads, "spoke to us IN a Son," which is so appropriate because Christ is God's first word and His last word.

Father, we thank You that it is Your Word, Christ, spoken to our hearts which flows forth in power and love, beyond the corruption of flesh and beyond words. Quicken us to be sensitive to Your flow as we are immersed in You. We thank You beyond words for the gift of Yourself dwelling in us. Help us to fully grasp the reality of that Truth, that Way and that Life. Amen. Jan Antonsson

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

"The Passion of God"

The Glory Road

We always enjoy hearing from you!

jantonsson@aol.com

This page was uploaded to the web on 2/26/04

by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,

and last edited on 10/18/08.