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!
I have been stirred back into blog-action by having just watched a wonderful video made by Bibles for America. It is called The God-shaped Vacuum, and poses the following question:
Have you ever felt unsatisfied, let down, or even empty after you got what you thought would make you happy?
You are not alone.
I know I’ve had this feeling before, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I highly recommend watching the video, it is only 2:50 minutes, and explains why we feel this way, and how we can be finally and lastingly satisfied. Watch it here:
And on this same subject, I’d also like to point you to this great post from The Joy of Germany: Does God have an address? It is so wonderful that we can know God’s address. Once we know where to find Him, we don’t have to wander around and hope to accidentally “bump into Him”… we can go directly to where He is located. He’s in our spirit!
Well, it’s nice to break the silence by sharing some online gems like this. If you have any great stuff to share with me, feel free to post in the comments or drop me a line somehow.
And hopefully it won’t be long before I’m back to tell you about my past four months :)
I had such an awesome day yesterday. In the morning I really enjoyed the prophesying meeting and the Lord’s table. And thank You Lord, I shared something during the prophesying meeting! It is good to practice to speak and to flow out. This is normal for Christians. Our God is a speaking God, and we are His speaking people!
And after that, I went into central London to meet up with a couple of sisters to help with the painting of the soon-to-be-opened Amana Trust Bookshop & Cafe. We went to the bookshop for the first time just over a week ago, and have been going whenever we have some time. It has been so much fun and it is great to participate by serving in this way. And I am so happy to be with the saints. Even when the journey time was extra long yesterday (because of engineering works)… it was worth it! (I’ve also been getting to catch up on my Life-study reading whilst on the Tube!)
I do intend to make a post about painting and the bookshop another time. But in this post, I wanted to share my enjoyment from last week’s Holy Word for Morning Revival. Did you know we are becoming truth?
This past week, the Holy Word for Morning Revival was on the subject of “The God-man Who Satisfies God’s Desire and Fulfills His Good Pleasure”. We were looking at Psalms 15 and 16, which begin with the following question:
O Jehovah, who may sojourn in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy mountain?
David, the writer of this Psalm, goes on to give an answer to his question.
He who walks in integrity
And does righteousness
And speaks truth from his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue;
He does not do evil to his friend,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his neighbor.
In his eyes a reprobate is despised,
But he honors those who fear Jehovah.
Should he swear to his harm,
He does not change.
He does not lend his money on interest,
Nor accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will not be shaken forever.
What do you think? Is this a good answer?
I returned recently from the International Blending Conference in Dublin. Thank You Lord for another wonderful opportunity to be with the saints in Ireland!
It really felt like a sweet family time – there were about 100 saints there, and every meal time we were all invited to eat together at the nearby (8 minutes walk) church in Dublin meeting hall. I had hospitality with a family where there are three young people and many more at home in their home, and was very cherished by my time with them. The young people were full of life and energy, keeping me young both physically and in my spirit!
A number of saints back in London were able to watch the entire conference at the FTTL training centre via Skype, and on two occasions were able to share their enjoyment after the meetings with us in Dublin. On the Lord’s day it was a blending meeting in district 9, with a number of nearby churches, so there were probably another 100 saints who were with us virtually.
The conference was on The Revelation of Christ in God’s Economy as Presented in Psalm 2, and if you read on, I’ll share three points I enjoyed from the five messages of the conference…