Someone asked me how my weekend was, and I realised I have to share it with you!
I joined an Amana Trust Weekend Retreat at Bower House and Woodland Camp, in London, and it was awesome. I’m so glad I went! The whole weekend was very pleasant, lots of yummy food (cooked breakfasts and a barbecue – yes, all free), and lots of believers from all over East London and the East of England. Some had been to events like this before and for some this was their first time. But we were all well taken care of :)
The three messages on Saturday were on God’s Eternal Purpose as seen in the Book of Ephesians. We covered Ephesians 1-3 (the second half will be covered the next 4 weekends).
Two key words we were presented with from the very beginning were enjoy and turn. The Lord is so enjoyable in His Word, and we need to keep turning our hearts to Him, not thinking that we know everything, so that we can see, and not just to see but also to experience!
Ephesians 1 – Our rich God wants to dispense Himself into us!
The first message was on Ephesians 1, and the mystery of His will (Eph 1:9), and how God has a purpose, to attain a particular goal. In Genesis 1:26 we see that God wants to be expressed and represented. A good illustration of this is with a hand and a glove, where the hand needs to come into the glove in order for it to be expressed. We are made in the image and likeness of God, and God wants to get into us!
So for this, God made a plan, an economy, an arrangement (Eph 1:10). It is like He has prepared a rich feast for us, and even more than our need to eat, God has a need for us to come and eat!
We have a rich, rich, rich God, and He wants to dispense, dispense, dispense Himself into us!
God created us as vessels to be filled with Him, and not just individually, but corporately – as the church, His Body, the fullness of the one who fills all in all (Eph 1:22-23). The church is Christ in you and me, and in all the believers. So the only way the church can be produced is by God’s economy, His plan and arrangement to dispense Himself into us, to get into us and fill us!
This is why Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:4 to charge certain ones not to give heed to different teachings apart from God’s economy, which is in faith. We just need to be those who are open to the Lord (100% soft and absorbent – like cotton wool!), open to His dispensing, so that we can be filled, soaked, and saturated with Him. Then we will express Him!
And that was just message 1/chapter 1…
Ephesians 2 – A new thing in the universe – God’s masterpiece!
In chapter 2 we saw the church as God’s wonderful masterpiece. The chapter starts with us – “And you” – dead in our offenses and sins (Eph 2:1)… “but God” (Eph 2:4)!
But God, being rich in mercy, even though we were dead in our offenses, made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up together with Him, and seated us together with Him (Eph 2:4-6)! Thank You Lord!
This is all past tense, and it is all by grace that we are being produced as His masterpiece to be displayed to the entire universe (Eph 2:7, 10).
The church as the masterpiece of God is absolutely a new item in the universe, and this masterpiece is the mingling of God with man.
And now, in the present tense, we are being fitted together and are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit (Eph 2:21-22).
How wonderful! And did you pick up a key word here? Together!
God is carrying out His dispensing not just to gain us individually, but to gain such a corporate expression in the church. And He has made us all one in Him (Eph 2:13-14) even though we were so far off, with the Gentiles even further than the Jews (and we were given a good illustration of how far we had fallen… but God!).
Ephesians 3 – Our stewardship, and our experience!
And in chapter 3 we saw our stewardship (Eph 3:2). Our receiving is “to me, for you2. On God’s side this is dispensing, and on our this is stewardship.
We also saw the revelation of the mystery (Eph 3:3-5). A mystery something that was hidden but now is made known. For sure, God is a mystery but Christ reveals Him! Christ also is a mystery but the church reveals Christ.
And third, we saw the apostle Paul’s prayer for our experience (Eph 3:14-21). Having this prayer makes everything so far in Ephesians real and practical and possible. And this is what Paul prayed for the Ephesians, and what he prayed for us.
We went through the details of this prayer and the four “thats” which show this experience is progressive. Every day we can pray that we would be strengthened into our inner man, that Christ may make His home in our heart, that we may be full of strength to apprehend with all the saints all the vast dimensions of Christ and His knowledge-surpassing love, and ultimately that we may be filled unto all fullness of God!
We saw a great illustration of how fullness is the overflowing, it is the full expression. And the end of this prayer is, “To Him would be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus” (Eph 3:21). Glory is God expressed, and this glory is in the church in and in Christ Jesus.
Our experience of this prayer, our being under the daily dispensing, resulting in the fullness of God, is how God carries out His eternal purpose!
I especially loved the reminder that when we don’t know what to pray, even when we do know what to pray – we can pray Ephesians 3:16-19 every day for ourselves, and for others:
Oh Lord, strengthen us right now into our inner man, make your home more in our hearts today, root and ground us in Your love, fill us unto all the fullness of God!
I was also encouraged that He is able to do this, and He is able to do superabundantly above all that we ask or think (Eph 3:20). The proper context here is not that related to something outward or material, but to God carrying out this within us. Thank You Lord!
Praise the Lord, He has made us part of His eternal purpose. God has a good pleasure, God has a need, and God has a plan – that He would dispense Himself into us, and that we would be filled with God and overflow God to express Him. Thank You Lord!
And there was more, and there is more!
There were also some short fellowship times during the weekend on studying the truth, the burden for the children and how to raise them up as the next generation, spending time with the Lord in the morning, prophesying (speaking for God, as described in 1 Corinthians 14) for the building up of the church, and the Lord’s table and Lord’s supper as a replacement of the Passover.
It was a very full and rich weekend, I can’t believe we did so much in such a short time. It really was like a feast! And like I said, it really was a retreat into my spirit!
This was the fourth retreat covering the first half of Ephesians, and the next four weekends are covering the second half of Ephesians. Don’t miss out! Everyone is invited according to where they live, but of course if you can’t go on a particular weekend, just sign up for another one. And I mentioned they are free, right? More info can be found here: amanatrust.org.uk/weekend-retreats.
PS: I originally wrote this as a long Whatsapp message to respond to “How was the weekend?”, and edited it just slightly to post here, so it may not be quite my usual style of writing. I tried to take out some of the exclamation marks – but I can’t help it, this is pretty exciting stuff! :) Keep enjoying, and keep turning!
The following report was written on 17th June 2012, as I was returning home from a glorious weekend in the church in Rome. Hallelujah! There were 561 saints from 29 countries gathered together this weekend to participate in the Italian Conference and the Resumption of the Lord’s Table in Rome. Praise the Lord!
It has been super busy here in London these past five months. My lack of posts is some indication of this, as is this packed calendar of conferences and events. And it’s not too late to join some, as there are plenty more taking place all around Europe in the next few months – starting with Germany this weekend!
All these different events have of course required much fellowship and coordination (not that I have been involved in them all), as we serve together to take care of many practical things. But it is wonderful to be in a heavenly team, with Christ our Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20), and the many members of His Body, each functioning according to their measure (Romans 12:4).
Not one of us can do it by ourselves… More and more we see our lack and our need for help. We need the brothers and the sisters, the younger ones and the older ones, the new ones and the more experienced ones, and especially we need all the praying saints around the whole earth (Ephesians 6:18)!
So thank you for your prayers, dear brothers and sisters, and I am sorry I haven’t been faithful to give many reports recently related to how the Lord has been continuing to move here in the UK and Europe.
Well, to make up for it, I’m going to spend the next few posts briefly recapping on what has been going on. (I tried to write it all in one post, but I couldn’t – it is too much!) And then I’ll tell you why this summer is not looking like it is going to be any slower than the winter or spring…
Although that is far from a complaint: the move of the Triune God is very exciting. Let His Word run!
Ok, we’ll begin with our recap tomorrow. Come back then!
Well, things don’t get quiet around here in London. Last week we had the Winter School of Truth 2011, the eighth Winter School of Truth here in the UK.
As in the previous few years, there were two classes run simultaneously, one for school years 7-9 (age 11 to 14) on God’s Full Salvation, and the other for school years 10-13 (age 15-19) on The Two Spirits, the Divine Spirit and the Human Spirit.
This was a marvellous blending time, with a total of 212 young people and serving ones registered, from Belgium, Ethiopia, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and the USA. Did you count? That’s 15 ‘countries’ – actually both England and Scotland were represented, and you could even say Wales was too!
The impression I got was that everyone had a great time diving into the truth together!
Right now I’m at one of my busiest points in the year, and I am learning that I need to learn to depend… on the Lord, and on the Body!
Last Saturday was the second young adults fellowship in London. I really appreciated the time. One of the questions that came up in the Q&A was:
As young adults, how can we help to prepare ourselves to take responsibility in the church, so that we will be the most useful to the Lord in the future?
The more I consider this question, the more I am treasuring it. And I am also treasuring the answer given by one of the brothers.