Rest and the Vine

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
I am grateful for some time off of work to rest and to be able to concentrate more on time with You!

Jesus:
If you would recognize that I have offered to help you with the burdens of your work and bring them to Me more, you would not be so much in need of rest.  The notion that you have the primary responsibility for it all is the world’s notion and you have been programmed with it thoroughly.  It is contrary to the principle of a branch abiding in the vine.  All the life-giving strength comes from the vine.  The leaves of the branch support transpiration, giving the moisture in the sap some place to go.  All this works in the environment that I designed: sunshine and rain and richness of soil.  You know, this process in a plant is a parallel of the process of you learning of Me and growing in understanding.

Me:
How so, Jesus?

Jesus:
The branch is tiny at first.  A mere tendril sprouting from the main trunk of the vine.  It abides in the vine and is nourished, receiving from the vine everything it needs to grow.  As it grows, it is able to take more and more of what the vine supplies.  The branch provides the place for fruit to develop and acts in concert with the vine.  It is part of the whole.  The undeveloped branch does not possess the capacity to carry all the fruit requires.  Nor does it have the physical strength to support the weight of the fruit.  If it abides long enough in the vine, though, it develops both the capacity and the strength to bear fruit.

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
 For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her
. [Proverbs 3:13-16]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
[Proverbs 9:10]
Me:
Thank You Jesus!  I love You!
Jesus:
You’re welcome! I love you!
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The Spirit of Christmas Past

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
declares the Lord.

21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 59)

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
It never ceases to amaze me, Holy Spirit, the sight that You gave to the prophet Isaiah, concerning the coming of Jesus. Last night, we read dozens of passages in Isaiah for our traditional lesson and carol service. Some are almost like they were written at the same time as the Gospel of Luke, though I know they preceded the virgin birth by probably 700 years.

Holy Spirit:
What is seven hundred years to Me? I Am One who is eternal, without beginning and without end.

Me:
You are always amazing in all Your works! I think the thing that is hard to grasp is Isaiah’s willingness and ability to listen to You and to hear so faultlessly.

Holy Spirit:
That is the primary qualification of a prophet.

Me:
Still, I have the scriptures to test what I hear from You and all the New Testament and the benefit of the salvation wrought by Jesus on our behalf. Whereas, Isaiah was only looking forward to the incarnation.

Holy Spirit:
I Am not constrained by time. We have talked about how Jesus’ sacrifice is not constrained by time either. It is the fact that the words of the law and the prophets, which became the scriptures, point to the cross and the desire of God to save that enabled all who would seek and listen to prepare their hearts to receive. The apparent constraint of their lives being in time before the incarnation of the Christ is no hindrance. The true difficulty is lack of faith and an unwilling heart clinging to its sin.

Me:
Oh, Holy Spirit, there is so much that has been beyond me. Trying to grapple with the concept of time and Your freedom from it boggles my mind.

Holy Spirit:
That is why your salvation, and in fact, all your relationship with Us is based on faith and not on understanding. A child can love his mother before he is capable of understanding all that he will eventually come to know about her. Your relationship with Me is like that, and will remain so on this side of the grave. In the end, the limitations imposed on you by the ravages of sin will be swept away and you will know Me face to face.

Me:
I look forward to that, Holy Spirit. Yet, at the same time, I cannot shake the apprehension that accompanies contemplation of the end of my days. Is that a lack of faith?

Holy Spirit:
Do not worry about that. You only feel the sense of self-preservation that I built into all. It is primarily there to counter the evil whispers of the deceiver that either recklessness or suicide are answers to anything. As a woman is prepared for birth during the months of pregnancy, so those who are Mine are prepared for the end of their days, when it is time.

Me:
Then I thank You for being spared the struggles of some in that regard, and I ask You to shine Your light on them and fill them with the knowledge of Your majesty and their hearts with Your Joy! I love You! Thank You for speaking with Me! What a treasure this time is! What a great gift to know You and to be known by You!

Holy Spirit:
You are certainly welcome! This relationship with you is My desire and I place more value on it than you can know. I love you!

Thanksgiving

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; – Colossians 2:6-10

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
I am grateful, Jesus, that You are head over all.  I know You to be perfectly loving and incomparably wise; all-knowing and with unlimited strength to carry out justice, yet merciful and generous.  Most of all, I am grateful for Your willingness to forgive me and have a relationship with me!  I know that in and of myself, I have no way to make my way back from the dark depths to which I had sunk to sit in the Light and talk with You.  Thank You for Your gracious gift of Your presence!

Jesus:
You are welcome! I delight in talking with you, for that was the plan from the beginning.  I know you as you are and I love you.  I know you as I made you to be and I Am enabling you to grow into My vision.  In these talks we have, I desire for you to grasp My vision and to see its perfection and its power and to make it your own vision.  I do not wish to keep you in the dark, but to see you put behind you the deceptions you have owned.  They encumber your progress, like carrying around a heavy load of rotting garbage.  I want you to know My Truth.  I want you to know My Truth down in the depths of your being.  I want My Truth to burn in your heart.  I Am a purifying fire.  Your faith in Me affords you the protection necessary for Me to burn away the lies you have believed that yet hold you captive and prevent you from fulfilling My vision.  Know this today: because all the fullness of Deity dwells in Me, all the resources of the creation are at My disposal.  Yet those resources are nothing compared to the resources that are in Us.  This should be evident, for all of creation came into being at My Word, and by the power of My Spirit, by the will of the Father.

Me:
It is surely humbling to sit in Your presence, Jesus.  My mind cannot grapple with the magnitude of who You are and what you have done and what you are doing.  To know that though I cannot even properly comprehend Your majesty, You are willing to speak with me and to help me to grow out of the dimness of the past and into the glory of a future filled with the opportunity to draw nearer to You – this is reason for thanksgiving indeed!

Thank You for rescuing me from the path of death and setting me on the road to an amazing life!  I love You!

Jesus:
You’re welcome!  I love you!  Keep coming to Me, we have much left to do.

Me:
Good morning Father!
ABBA:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
We watched an old movie last night: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I found it disturbing, the inmates of the insane asylum stripped of their fundamental human rights by their keepers and afforded no dignity as those made in Your image.  It would have been different if the authorities running the institution were actually trying to help those afflicted.  But, not only that, it highlighted the ravages of Satan’s work on the mind and heart – on both sides of the institutional hierarchy. Of course You know my attempts to help my own brother and how that has worked out.  I don’t know now whether he is even alive.  But I can surely understand his fierce desire to remain independent, even if he doesn’t eat.
ABBA:
Yes, the film did not whitewash how Satan’s schemes play out in the lives of My children.  It saddens me that it is so.  That is why Jesus came to redeem.
Me:
Even though the Lamb of God has paid the price for sins, it still seems to prove unlikely that the deceived will put their faith in Him.  Except You cause them to hear and cause them to see, it seems they remain unaware of the Gift.  Maybe not unaware, in many cases, more that they are unwilling.
ABBA:
Consider this passage:

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’ (Quoted from Isaiah 6.)
16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13)
Me:
Why, Lord?  Why has it not been granted for them to know the mysteries of the kingdom?  How do I reconcile this with the scripture that says You are not willing that any should perish? (2 Peter 3:9)


ABBA:
If I make all the Truth obviously and irrefutably plain to those who have not already chosen to embrace Me, you could not say they actually had a choice in the matter.  The plain explanations to the disciples show what it is like for those who have already decided to follow Me.  The choice comes first, then the revelation.  I Am not willing that any should perish.  But I choose to keep My desire subjugated to the choice of the individual.  I do know the end from the beginning.  I could have chosen to give you no choice.  I desired that those who love Me do so of their own free will. Nothing short of that actually fits My definition of love.
As far as reconciling the scripture, if your foundation is the knowledge that I Am the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, you will suspect that the passage in the Greek is much more nuanced than the English translation shows.  Isaiah’s prophecy sheds more light.  The people do not hear because of their hearts.  They close their eyes.  Is that not a voluntary act?

Me:
Thank You Father!  I am grateful for Your patient explanations!  I love you!
ABBA:
You are welcome!  I love you!

Through all the Wisdom and Understanding

… We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, Colossians 1:9b

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
There is a magnificent wealth of things in this verse to thank You for and to ask You more about!  Thank You for the example of being able to ask on behalf of others for filling with the knowledge of the will of God.  Thank You for the revelation that You bestow “all the wisdom and understanding” and that they are a gift.

Holy Spirit:
You’re welcome! The
gift is of the will of God.  That is to say, The Father has decreed it, the Son has enabled you to receive it, and I Am delivering it. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17

Me:
Is the failure to pray like this at the bottom of the apparent lack of unity – among even those who consider themselves believers – concerning what God is directing?

Holy Spirit:
It is one minor reason.  Do not worry about unity.  What those who bring that up usually mean is, “Why won’t you come over here and help me with my program?”  Unity in the way you mean it would be automatic if all were communing with Me and listening with unfettered hearts and doing what they hear with unbridled enthusiasm.  That is the only “unity” that matters.  The creation is intricately designed and all the parts have their own unique character and diverse purpose, yet they comprise the perfectly conceived and orchestrated whole.  I Am doing many things in all places in the administration of the will of God.

Me:
Is there a requirement for asking this filling?

Holy Spirit:
Two.

Me:
Two?

Holy Spirit:
A vital relationship with God.

Me:
And the other?

Holy Spirit:
A relationship with the person you are asking Me to fill with the knowledge and understanding of the will of God.

Me:
What kind of relationship?

Holy Spirit:
Enough to see the difference when I answer.  Enough to be overjoyed in it.  In short, those you love.

Me:
Thank You Holy Spirit!  I love You!

Holy Spirit:

You’re welcome!  I love you!

Delegated Authority – What will I do with it?

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government[a] will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government[a] and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. [Isaiah 9; [a] rule, dominion]

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. [Ephesians 1]

Me:
Good morning Father!
ABBA:
Good morning Jon!
Me:
I look forward to the fulfillment of Your plan! In our current governmental systems, we have nothing like unity or unending peace.
ABBA:
I have given among men the freedom to choose. When the times reach their fulfillment, all things will be brought into unity. In the mean time, you have the freedom to choose. All the things that are under your authority can, even today, be brought into unity under the Son.
Me:
What things are under my authority?
ABBA:
What you will believe. What you will do with the time alloted to you. What you will speak. What you will give. Whether you will follow My Word and heed My Spirit, and love my Son. Will you love others? Will you show compassion? Will you trust Me when others deny Me? The matters of your own heart and of your own mind, these are under your authority. Will you stand on the Truth or compromise for safety or convenience? In My Son, I have freely given you life in place of the wage of death that you had earned in sin. No one can take you out of My hand. Therefore, no one can take away the choices of what you decide to do under the authority that I have given you. In these things, under Jesus, in the Spirit, by My zeal for this plan of redemption, let your mind be transformed and let your spirit be renewed. In the world, lies abound, but they will be shown for what they are and will go the way of death to which they lead. My Word is Truth and it will never pass away. Stand on that foundation and you will never be shaken.
Me:
Thank You Father! When I consider Your Word and Your mighty promises, my confidence is renewed and joy rises in my heart! I love You!
ABBA:
You’re welcome! The joy is a gift for you to enjoy and to share. I love you!

Authority – Some Rightful, Some Usurped

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  Romans 13:1-2

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
For years, I have struggled with the 13th chapter of Romans.

Holy Spirit:
I know.

Me:
I see Your way, clearly laid out in Galatians 5 – self-control as the produce of a life infused by Your power and subject to Your desire.

Holy Spirit:
What about those who have no intention of being subject to My desire?  A purpose of appointed authorities is to restrain those who serve the destroyer from wronging others.

Me:
I’m perfectly OK with that.  It is when the authorities themselves appear to be serving the enemy that I am troubled by Romans 13; giving hearty approval to abortion, for instance, and vilifying those who would oppose that abomination.

Holy Spirit:
You are asking how that type of authority could possibly be established by Me?

Me:
Yes.

Do I prevent you from sinning, or do I permit you to choose?

Holy Spirit:
You, appear to give me free will to obey or to not obey.

Me:
If you do not obey, on whose authority are you acting?

That is a hard question.  I see that You permit the choice, but cannot imagine You being in favor of a bad choice.

Holy Spirit:
Bad choices grieve Me (Ephesians 4:30).

Your freedom to choose is embedded in the fact that you are created in the image of God.  I Am free to choose.  I choose always according to My nature.  That is why the scripture tells you that I Am light and that in Me there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  I desire you to choose according to My nature in you.  Since I Am in you, the only way for you to do otherwise is to quench the fire of My truth that is resonating in your heart and charge ahead in spite of what I Am telling you.  You know how that feels, just as you know how it feels to obey and grow and love and rejoice.

Me:
And the government or other authorities are groups of people with the same choice: whose authority will they exercise?

Holy Spirit:
There is only One Authority.  But it is possible to choose to act outside of My authority or the authority that I delegate.  Those who act wrongfully are usurpers.

Me:
I know Jesus told Pilate that he would have no power over Him except it had been given from above.  I know how dependent I am on Jesus’ sacrifice in submitting to the crucifixion carried out at Pilate’s order and the insistence of the Jewish leaders.

Holy Spirit:
I make all things work together for good for those who love me, for those who are called according to My purpose (Romans 8).  All things include the actions of usurpers.

Me:
Thank You that you are above all earthly powers and that my life is wholly in your hand.  You are only good and merciful continually!  I love You!

Holy Spirit:

You are welcome! I love you!