Jesus told the Jews who believed Him, , “IF you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 emphasis added)
COME, take a train ride with me and consider the relevance of Jesus’ claim for today.
Why on a train? Another intriguing ‘train’ of thoughts and insights is about to pass by, like one of those old-time steam locomotives. They amble along, which allows time for passengers to chat as well as to explore carriages. I can rummage around looking for any interesting ‘cargo’ and such ‘trunks’ often hold hidden gems. Also, conversation with passengers may bring a confirmation, an affirmation or even a revelatory word from the Lord. So won’t you go back three weeks and share my latest ‘trip’ with me?
It’s a free ride, so no need to buy a ticket as we dash through to the platform where its entrance acts as a ‘portal’ and we jump back three weeks in time. On board this short, now moving train we’re welcomed by a kaleidoscopic collection of inter-linked thoughts and insights. Let’s check what’s in this first carriage before we move further along the train…
Here I sit to dig out of my briefcase some prophetic words I’d been given in 1996 (see Why I’m writing). This sheet of paper opens by stating how the day started with a call from someone who’d heard the Lord instruct them to call me with verses 3, 5 and 9 in the Book of Joshua. Re-reading that first chapter now, however, my gaze fixes upon verses 6 to 8 leading into verse 9 and some words seem to have an added emphasis, as below.:
[1After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2“Moses my servant is dead. Now then…]7…Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
My study Bible says this account of the Israelite tribes’ journey into the land that the God of Abraham had promised him and his descendants was written about 3,400 years ago! I note the fact that Moses’ closest assistant was told to keep entirely focused upon what Moses wrote and upon nothing else. Only by so doing would Joshua and all his people prosper, and God would be with them where they were about to go!
[What Moses wrote is known as the Pentateuch, a Greek term meaning ‘five-volumed book’ and derived from its Jewish designation, ‘five-fifths of the law’. The Israelites knew it as ‘Torah’, meaning ‘instruction’. It is the first five books of the Old Testament: namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.[
Then came an insight: the Torah was the only Standing Instruction this national leader had for his guidance. Furthermore, it was and is the word of God – Holy Scripture. That five-fold book was all they had to believe and follow as holy writ – unlike today with 61 more books comprising later history, poetry and prophetical writings inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. The first 5 books were all Joshua had to go on! Even so, God promised to be with him.
So, about 3,400 years ago Joshua had his instructions but must have gained so much more under the oversight of the Living God. Over the next 1,400 years the descendants of those ancient Hebrews received many more writings inspired by God. And then about 2,000 years ago, God once again drew alongside them as ‘Immanuel’. [A Hebrew word meaning ‘With us is God’ and a title for Jesus Christ, as used by the OT prophet Isaiah when he prophesied Jesus’ virgin birth 700 years earlier – Isaiah 7:14 refers.]
By the time this later Joshua (which means ‘saviour’) lived amongst the Jews as Jesus of Nazareth, their scripture had grown from 5 to 39 authoritative books, and which are known to Christians as the Old Testament. [Some traditional Christian denominations recognise a few more books: see How many books are in the Bible?]
Jesus taught the people with an authority greater than that of their priests because His words came direct from God. [See John 8: 25-39 for His declaration on this issue and which leads into the opening verse of this blog. The last part of v 32 is often quoted but ignores the specific condition for achieving freedom – ie. abiding in God’s word.]
Within a few decades of Jesus’ life another 27 books written by apostles and disciples were recognised as being inspired by God and collated into the New Testament as a complete Bible. So we Christians have a huge Standing Instruction.
Another insight comes: As in Joshua’s time, Jesus’ first followers had God’s promise to go with them, only this time they wouldn’t be going into just the small area of land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. This time Jesus, the Son of God, commissioned His followers to ‘go to the ends of the world’ after the Holy Spirit would visit and stay upon them.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. [Matthew 28:18-20]
Like Joshua, those Apostles’ and disciples’ Standing Instructions were based upon an existing body of authoritative scripture that was augmented not only by Jesus’ teachings but also by continuing personal direction from Jesus and the Father. That is, this time God’s promise to always be with them was not just for one person only but for many, and His Holy Spirit would be present within them as an endowment of power! Thus, they then lived and moved with God’s Spirit upon them.
The week I’m re-visiting personal prophecies I also come across Bobby Conner’s word for 2013, Calling All Warriors. It stirs me deeply and seems so appropriate for today. (It also connects into the ‘warrior’ word from the UK Prophetic Council, as published here.)
On the Saturday, a mentoring day, I see an inspirational picture matching Bobby’s word. Also that morning, Dr Stone states that the 1st chapter of Joshua is important for these days. So I open my old NIV at that very place and grin. What do you know! As I do so Sharon emphasises her message by quoting the verses I’d just seen and which I’d highlighted many years ago (as in above image).:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9]
I’m astounded, as you may have realised from my published account of that day (here). Sharon prophesies that the Church will be moving into what it was always meant to be like, but it will not be easy – as when Joshua led the Israelites into their Promised Land.
The next day at church our minister teaches about ‘Abiding in His Word’ – and for me this directly connects into Joshua again! As we considered in the 1st carriage, ‘Abiding’ was God’s Standing Instruction to Joshua, and repeated by Jesus to His followers! The minister then opens this topic by stating:
“The Bible is not a fence that contains God, that is used to restrict Him and His works – it reveals Him! It is guide-lines to indicate who He is and what He can/will do. The Bible is a platform from which He operates!”
Next, she quotes Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, California. (It so happens I’m reading Healing Unplugged, which is a deep discussion between him and Randy Clark about their personal healing ministries. We’ve listened enthralled to Bill several times for he greatly loves teaching from the Word, thereby giving listeners fresh insights.) Now, our minister quotes him as follows:
“It’s hard to have the same fruit as the early Church when you value a book they didn’t have more than the Holy Spirit, whom they did have.”
That reflects in part my earlier thoughts. Next, she goes on to refer to what Jesus told the Jews about God’s own testimony about Jesus being shown though the work He was doing for them:
“But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life…” [John 5 NKJV]
Our South African minister Lindi summarises the meaning of verse 38:
“The abiding word that is written has to become real so that it becomes the manifest Word – and then you believe and see miracles!
Sometimes we pray for revival or change and when it comes we don’t recognise it. Or, we even reject it because it doesn’t fit into our (Biblical) box…
“The abiding word is what positions us for the next thing that God is going to do!”
Wow, all this is amplifying and enhancing my meditations during the week.
The very next day I’m prompted – and I don’t know why I should do so – to check that a link on an old posting is working. This is the source’s homepage for The Bridegroom Cometh, but I find it’s dead! So I check again a few hours later, but this time I’m so utterly astounded to see there the picture I’d bought only two days ago and hangs in the study! (As above under ‘2nd carriage’.) Moments later Nina enters the study, sees the picture on-screen and her jaw drops!
IS IT ANY WONDER I was absolutely stunned? (As first reported here)
What is our Lord and God saying and indicating?
Can you hear Him?
May I summarise?…
God gives plenty of instructions for us to meditate upon, to follow and live by so that we will always remain, or abide, in them. In addition to that He gives us Himself – so what more could we possibly ask or want?
Here’s one of my favorites on abiding from that very special, private teaching time in the upper room on the eve of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.:
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me…”
Then, when talking about His being the True Vine, Jesus again stresses the great importance of abiding in God’s holy word.:
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love…”
These are from John 14 and John 15 respectively in NKJV, but it’s much better to read the whole event and thereby gain its full context. So why not invite the Lord to be with you as you read and meditate upon chapters 13-17 of the Gospel according to John?
May He be with you in Spirit…
Our train halts in a station for a quite a while and we take a break to walk around the station. Here we find a number of civilians and military personnel dressed as though they’re in the 1940s! We recognise one distinguished figure boarding as we’re called back on board and enter the 3rd carriage to continue on our journey (click to proceed).