Saturday, 24 July 2010


In the last few weeks I’ve been reading the Message Old Testament and yesterday finished reading 2 Kings. For the first time I was struck by the loss of, and devastation to, the temple and Jerusalem. The last chapter setting out the removal of anything precious and burning the temple to the ground leaving only a few farmers behind. It is a shocking chapter in the history of our story.
The nation of Israel crossed the Jordan and for a time dominated the region, pushing out other cultures and setting themselves up with cities and occupying the land. I’m not sure they ever fully occupied all the land that had been promised to Abraham but they certainly arrived in the promised land and made their present felt. At its peak, the nation of Israel has Jerusalem with Solomon on the throne with a magnificent temple and palace, riches beyond measure and his wisdom influencing other nations. Biblical history sets the story out in graphic detail including where it all went wrong and why.
Their loss was enormous and not just economic but physical and most importantly they lost their identity and inheritance, but for a remnant. The ark was gone, judgement had been levied against them and exile had come upon them. All they had was gone, the land, the culture, the promise and the presence. Devastation.
The bible tells us of the return and the start of the rebuild of the temple. This would be at odds with our thinking perhaps. Surely the place is an absolute tip and homes and infrastructure are needed first but they start rebuilding the temple. Even when they start to rebuild houses at the expense of the temple they are told by Haggai that the reason they are not being successful is because they have stopped the rebuilding of the temple.”You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home I blew away. Why? Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house” Haggai 1:9
I think it is no wonder that when Jesus arrives a few hundred years later the nation of Israel was a confused place. Over the years they had been allowed to return but to an area that no longer had the influence or affluence of earlier days. They knew the stories of old, they were taught the law, letter by letter they did not want to forget again and be forced again into exile. They would now obey every word and hold onto what they had, remember their identity - they were the children of Abraham and they added regulation after regulations and waited for the rescue that had been promised by the prophets. They appear to have become seriously legalistic and controlling and missing the biggest commandment of all - to love. Hoping that one day their empire would return. And then Jesus arrives.
The Jewish nation were waiting for a ‘Messiah’, but in their history the restorers meant kings with a mighty sword who pushed back the enemy and restored their former glory in the area. They were looking for another King David who would win in battle and force back the enemy, put them back on the map. Perhaps they forgot that he also had a heart after God and an intense life of worship. Interesting that Jesus did arrive as a king with a mighty sword but he came to defeat the enemy once and for all and to bring a glory to the house greater than the former. But they could not see it because they were looking for a different kind of kingdom, they were looking for an empire. Jesus came to preach the good news and to announce that the kingdom of God was at hand. God’s kingdom looks so different to the kingdoms of this world it is difficult to recognise.
This kingdom comes as a servant, a loving servant, a servant full of the Holy Spirit bringing good news with not just words but with power. This kingdom has one king only, high and lifted up, one counsellor, one teacher, one gate, one Father. The rules of this kingdom are love and grace, freedom and reconciliation. This kingdom looks to restore to its original design all of creation, so it revives and it restores. It brings life to all who encounter it and it has arms open wide to all. This kingdom is advancing every day since the days of John the Baptist. Isaiah prophesied that his kingdom rule would increase. So every day that rule is increasing and the enemy’s dominion is decreasing. Hallelujah!
Once again this kingdom is to be laid hold of by violence but this is a different kind of violence it is a passion for the things of God, being prepared to kill anything that would stand in the way of that passion, to kill daily all those things that hinder.
At the centre of this kingdom is also a temple where God wants to dwell. It too has to be built up first, where worship is the bricks and mortar, where intimacy with the King is the treasure that fills it. This temple has Jesus as it’s cornerstone, the Holy Spirit as the decorator and gardener and the Father as the architect and master builder. The influence and wisdom of this temple can impact nations one advancing step at a time. This is the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed and it is at hand. How close is your hand?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Shot glasses

Shot glass 1.
Healing, the truth that God intends good for me, that I am a new creation, that my body is a temple for the Holy Spirit to reside, that I have the fullness of the deity within me. That on the cross all my sins and sicknesses were dealt with, that I am no longer subject to the world or the fall, I am a child of the Kingdom and it is kingdom rules that apply to me. The glass contains all this truth and a leaf from the tree in heaven whose leaves are for the healing of the nations which includes me. So I drink this glass as God’s medicine to cure me of any sicknesses or illnesses and that my body will work in line with heaven’s order today.

Shot glass 2.
The armour of God. The belt of truth round my waist, the truth – Jesus in my centre. The helmet fitted perfectly with iPod to play me heaven’s music, God singing over me, angels worshipping in the throne room, words of life, strong on the outside to protect me, earmuffs to keep out lies, son glasses so I can see as He sees, muzzle on my tongue to speak only good, chin strap to keep my head up, help is always on the way. Breastplate of rightness with God, full access into the presence of God, holiness, oneness. The sword to use when necessary and only as the author of the book specifies, two edged, powerful and effective. My shield perfectly handled to be held up to keep back any fiery arrows regardless of where they came from. My feet fitted with readiness that comes from knowing the gospel and the peace it brings me.

Shot glass 3.
The anointing cup, my cup overflows, full of the Holy Spirit to fill me full to overflowing today, all of him in all of me. He has anointed me to preach good news, he has en –powered me, he is the living water flowing from the One, he is my wine, my Eden’s spring water, he is my strength, my wisdom, my counsellor, my teacher, my revealer, fruitfulness and gifting. This shot glass never empties to be drunk from constantly.

Shot glass 4.
Communion wine. Representing his precious blood poured out for me, redemption, rescue, love, hope, heaven’s best, he becomes my DNA, the unforced rhythm of walking with him, he is my song and my dance, he is my beloved and I am his. Here I have forgiveness and all sufficient grace. Here is unity with Jesus, full communion, true vine dwelling, and completeness.

Today I remember to drink.