I don’t normally share like this so please excuse me for being a bit more personal than I am normally in these Pastor’s Desks. Last Sunday morning I awoke with a strong sense that I needed to incorporate the vision of Ezekiel’s Temple as a framework for us to think about our year ahead in my sermon for that day. I had to re-jig my presentation (which as you might be aware involves a bit more work than they way most other preachers do their slides). This is why I arrived at church a little later than I normally comfortable in doing. I was particularly gripped by this divine vision given to Ezekiel of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring in the New Covenant with Christ Himself being the Temple-Source (John 2:19-21). While I was preaching to our church community (in-person and online) I was also preaching to myself. As a result, Kim and I continued in prayer and fasting for the rest of our Sunday. I now want to invite you to consider again Ezekiel’s picture of the Spirit-filled Christian life as the map for going deeper with God.
“FORMAL” CHRISTIANITY IS LIFELESS, POWERLESS, AND BORING
It’s my guess that most people regard Christianity as an outdated institution that is largely irrelevant. Sadly, I suspect that too many people who would consider themselves Christians regard Christianity as merely about them and their particular religious observances such as: attending church services, participating in the Eucharist (also referred to as Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper), and performing other religious observances such as lighting prayer candles or contributing to the church’s weekly collection. In the words of the apostle Paul, these people might have a “form” of Christianity but they do not know God or His power in their lives (2Tim. 3:5). Having a form of Christianity like this, but never having experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in transforming your soul into the image and likeness of Christ is a rather lifeless form of Christianity. If that’s where you’re at, I invite you to go deeper into the water of God and seek to experience more of the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:19).
And do not get drunk with wine,
for that is debauchery,
but be filled with the Spirit
In Ezekiel’s vision of the New Covenant which Yahweh revealed to him, he saw it as a ‘Temple’ twice the size of Solomon’s Temple with a headwater of the Holy Spirit’s life-giving, soul-transforming, miracle-working ‘water’ flowing out from under the Temple’s east door’s threshold Ezek. 47:1). The further that water traveled east, the deeper it got, and in the vision, Ezekiel was invited to walk further and deeper into it. This was a picture of what it’s like to walk with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13, 19; 1Cor. 2:4; Eph. 3:16). Coincidentally, the eastward direction from the Jerusalem Temple is largely dry wilderness, then desert. But Ezekiel is shown that wherever the water of the Holy Spirit goes, what was once barren becomes lush and fertile (Ezek. 47-8-9). This is a challenging picture that reveals that the purpose of the Spirit-filled life is not for the believer’s amusement, but for the empowering of the believer’s response to Christ’s summons to take the hope of rescue and soul-healing to a people lost a harsh world of barren spiritual darkness (Acts 26:18).
GO DEEPER IN YOUR CHRISTIANITY
How does Ezekiel’s vision of the New Covenant (Christianity) expect the faithful to go deeper? It begins with surrender and living to make God, His Word, and His will our highest priority (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 12:1-3). While formal Christianity is all about external appearance, real Christianity is a matter of the inner-life of the believer. The true believer is being transformed by the Holy Spirit who abides in them (Jn. 14:17). The Holy Spirit takes us deeper by transforming our priorities, our passions, our past-times, our praying, and especially our concern for people. The Spirit-filled life is a life walking daily with Christ with our spiritual ears attentive to His voice and leading.
It is no mere coincidence that both the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:38-39) and the Word of God (Eph. 5:26) are depicted as water. Both are indispensable for going deeper with God (Jn. 3:5). Both relate to how we pray. The Spirit leads the faithful to pray (Eph. 6:18). When a new believer starts out in their new life with Christ they learn that they can talk with God (Gal. 4:6). The Spirit invites the child of God into the Father’s presence to talk freely with Him (Heb. 4:16). As this new believer becomes a seasoned believer they discover while we continue to talk freely with our heavenly Father, we must also appreciate that our Father is the King, the King of the Universe, the All-Mighty King and Judge (Mat. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:12). The Spirit opens our eyes to this awareness of the magnitude of God. The growing awareness of the Father’s greatness increasingly transforms our prayers into petitions for the eternal destiny of people (Rom. 8:26; Col. 1:29) because we walk deeper into the eastward flowing water of the Holy Spirit.
Don’t wait for a prayer meeting to begin praying. Don’t wait for your next Bible Study to take up God’s Word and feed your soul. The deeper life begins now. Pray now. Take up God’s Word now. Be a witness now. May God the Father grant us a greater revelation of God the Son by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
¶ The Spirit and the Bride say,“Come.”
And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come;
let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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