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Posts Tagged ‘indwelling’

“May He send you help from the sanctuary (His dwelling place)
And support and strengthen you from Zion!” [Psalm 20:2, AMP]

What is the sanctuary? Initially, of course, my first thought went to the Temple or the Church. After all, it’s the word we have used through the ages to signify God’s dwelling place.

But there is so much more, that place of indwelling within us: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” [I Corinthians 6:19, NIV] Oh, how God wants us to search for our help from within! We have an opportunity to experience the support and strength of a Holy God. If we invited God into our lives, then why do we keep trying to operate on our own strength? I do this all the time. Help me, I cry, and then go about figuring my own solution.

I am slowly attuning my heart to questions, particularly the ones I have no ready answers for. This is my response to this scripture: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” [Matthew 7:7-8, NIV] Not ask for things but answers to the questions of my heart.

And one last thought: I bless you with the same. This is a prayer for you, for my loved ones, and for the strangers who cross my path. Look to the Sanctuary of God for help.

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living godHow lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.” [Psalm 84:1-2; NIV, 1984]

Two things stand out in these verses: God’s dwelling place and God being alive.

The entire idea of a dwelling place must be integrated into our consciousness. Where is the dwelling place? Perhaps in ancient times when the Temple was a designated place for God’s Presence there in Jerusalem, but that is no longer the case. Jesus and his subsequent disciples and teachers have made it clear that the kingdom is within us, the very Presence of the Holy Spirit provides a dwelling for God. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” [I Corinthians 3:16]

Where God is, it is lovely. Where God walks, it’s a garden. Where God is sovereign, there is peace. My longing is to dwell within the protective peace of God’s Holy Spirit. To live with abandon, in Christ. This is the greatest paradigm shift of all. We are not alone in this search. People are seeking the same thing but by different routes. I don’t know those outcomes but I do know the promise I have in the Christ: “Nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].” [Luke 17:21; Amplified]

And so I will dwell with a living God and because God is alive, God is transformative and seasonal and dynamic. God is not static. God is a river, an ocean, a Milky Way. God is a sun, a fire, a volcano. God is wind and cloud and dew. God is breath.

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Photo by Erich Lessing

Used by permission
© Erich Lessing

I keep trying to understand the movements of these ancient peoples. I guess I’d have to go back to school in Old Testament studies to really comprehend the places and names and how they correlate to today’s maps.  And yet, even with my limited knowledge, I enjoy making the small discoveries, like the meaning the place Isaac lived after Abraham’s death and its relationship to Hagar [Genesis 16:7].

Genesis 25:8-9a; 10b-11
Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre . . . There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi [Well of the Living One Seeing Me].

I’m assuming the name of this well was carried down by word of mouth because of Hagar. She saw God through the Angel who told her to return to Sarai, her mistress, and to believe in the future of her son, Ishmael.

Now, after all that Isaac had been through, both he and his half-brother, Ishmael, bury their father near the great trees of Mamre, and Isaac moves his household to this undoubtedly plush area near the river and the primary trade route between Egypt and the north. Isaac, too, wanted to be seen by God. I want to be seen by God too. Don’t we all?

Don’t we all want the intimacy of being seen, being known, being embraced by a loving God? This is, after all, the promise of Christ all along: despite it all, God sees you and accepts you . . . accepts me. Just so.

Come to the well and drink. Be seen. And, of course, once that “door” is open, I can see too. (Like the old refrain when having one’s picture taken in a crowd: if you can see the camera, the camera can see you.)

God is not looking through dense shrubs or hiding behind the clouds. God is within through the Holy Spirit. That is Well of the Living One Seeing Me. Right here.

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Icon: John the Baptist

To wash ceremonially in ancient Jewish times was to participate in a mikveh (or mikvah). For rituals, particularly washing from impurity, required “living” or flowing water such as a river or mikvot (the mikveh place) fed by a natural spring. It constituted the washing away of the old impurities and to mark the beginning of the new.

Matthew 3:1-2,
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” . . .  “I baptize you with [or in] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with [or in] the Holy Spirit and fire.

John the Baptist treated sin as the greatest impurity of all and called everyone who wanted a new start to celebrate a mikveh with him, right there in the desert, in the river Jordan. While priests, via the regulations in the Torah and other rabbinical writings, performed the mikveh for a variety of circumstances (after sexual relations for men, a menstrual cycle for women, after the birth of a child, upon declaring someone healed of a skin disease or leprosy, prior to Yom Kippur, and so forth), this may have been the first time that a mikveh was performed without a traditional priest.

John’s message was clear: prepare the way (prepare yourselves) for the coming Messiah. Release the old and make room for the new.

The water submersion was a ritual meant to mark a moment in time. And yet, John promised another moment, a time that would be marked by something more permanent than water: the Holy Spirit and Fire.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit came after Jesus’s resurrection, the gift was given (and promised) to all believers — the in-dwelling of God [Acts 2]. This in-dwelling changed everything and everyone. We tend to minimize this deeply motivating presence today.

There is so much “Jesus Junk” (Tchotchkes) and pat phrases like “Jesus loves you brother.” But it’s more than that. It’s not just that Jesus loves you; it’s that Jesus is you [Philippians 1:21]. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one. And once Jesus has been invited to occupy us, then the process of true sanctification begins, fusing me and the Christ. And with sanctification, unnecessary elements must, like chaff, be cast away and in some cases, burned away through experience, pain, persistence of motion, and repetition. We are all intended to “get it.”

The occupy movement from Wall Street to Washington, D.C., has nothing on the potential power and change that comes from the occupation of a human being by the Holy Spirit. This is the most authentic change of all.

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I know there are people who claim an anointing, a powerful experience or presence of power, usually attributed to the Holy Spirit who then manifests miracles, signs, and wonders. And I’m not debunking these exploits. Instead, I am more intrigued today by John’s insistence on authenticity.


I John 2:27
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

The anointing is a direct reference to the Holy Spirit. But John’s emphasis is on the Spirit’s authentic presence–not a counterfeit one.

In several of Paul’s passages (Romans 9:1; II Corinthians 11:31; I Timothy 2:7), he specifically states that he is not lying. I remember, as a young Christian, reading those words for the first time and how deeply they struck in my heart. I don’t really know why, but there was something true that resonated in those simple words: I am not lying. I believed.

Many times in a life, we must decide between a truth and a lie. To accept the Christ Spirit is no different. In that moment, it is a decision for truth: I believe God is real, Christ is real, and the Spirit can indwell. And from that point on, the inherited Truth (the anointing) is working to crowd out the lie.

The indwelling cannot be taught, not by human. It is personal and intimate and unique to me. And from that point forward, the path is different as well. For some, the path is a straight line, for others, it’s hilly or even mountainous, and for still others, it’s an ancient meandering river, twisting and turning through the landscape of the heart.

To remain “in” Christ is to remain “in” the Spirit. I in Christ and Christ in me. I in Spirit and Spirit in me.

Of course, I can make things more difficult. I can give power to the lie, give it root and nurture it: the lie can emerge in the form of unforgiveness, bitterness, judging, anxiety, fear, and even doubt. Truth cannot live inside any of these manifestations.

The Anointing is real. I am not lying.

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