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And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence [face] of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” [Gen3:8 AMP]

What Does God Sound Like?

I often wonder what would it sound like to hear God walking in the garden…would there be a mighty roar of wind?…would there be a gentle rustling of leaves?…would there be the sound of God’s footsteps?…or perhaps ‘the sound of the Lord’ relates to a sixth sense, a ‘spirit to Spirit’ sense that Adam and Eve were aware that the Lord was in the garden. Indeed, God did create them in His image [Gen 1:26-27] – which would include a spirit, as well as the soul and body.

God Confronts Adam and Eve

And the mystery of God’s presence being in the garden (more than in any other place) really points to God having a form which, for me, points to Jesus. So my long bow with this verse is that from time to time, or probably daily (knowing the love and character of God), Jesus would walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening (as He also did with His disciples when He was here on earth). You know, I believe sometimes we can get caught up in the harshness of the Old Testament and we can really miss this altogether – How great is the Father’s love is for His creation and how He longs and loves to fellowship with it (and how disappointed He must have been that Adam and Eve were attempting to hide from Him).

In any case (even if you do not agree with the above), Adam and Eve were familiar with the ‘sound of Lord’ and they knew He was in the garden and yet they did not go to Him as I suspect they usually would have, because of their sin. Fellowship and relationship with God was broken that day and instead of perhaps running to Him they hid from His face. This was a very sad day for humanity and for God!

But here is the Good News :-)…

Jesus came to restore everything that was lost through Adam at ‘the fall’!

(‘the fall’ = the fall of humanity through the sin of Adam and Eve)

To understand what has been restored through Jesus let us have a look at what has been lost through Adam.

Through Adam relationship and intimacy with our Heavenly Father have been lost. Our inherited sinful nature rebels against God and His Word. The penalty for our sin and rebellion is death and Hell. We are lost, we are condemned, we are without hope, we are without a purpose, we are without a future, and we are completely powerless and helpless to do anything about where we are heading. There is no way of escape and, because of God’s perfect judgement, nor do we deserve a way of escape.

Now putting the bad news aside here is the Good News :-)…

Jesus came to restore everything that was lost!

Through Jesus and His death and resurrection, our judgement and condemnation has been fully paid for through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We are no longer lost but we are saved by God. We are no longer hopeless but now have great hope in our Saviour and we live in the purposes and calling of our Heavenly Father which He has planned for us before the beginning of time. We are no longer powerless and helpless against the schemes of the enemy but we have given given authority in the name of Jesus through his great victory over the devil at the cross. The authority that had been forfeited by Adam has been restored by Christ. The devil doesn’t even have the keys to His own jails anymore. He is rendered powerless! All he has is lies and tricks. All authority has been given to Christ and to all who are in Christ, Jesus has given His authority. So if we don’t fall into a rebellious life or we are not tricked by the devil schemes we are truly free, free indeed [John 8:36] by the finished work of Jesus on the cross!

Additional reading here Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

A Life of Abundance!

Even further, as if this was not enough, Jesus came to give us far more than we could ever hope for or imagine[Eph 3:20]! Jesus calls us not to a life of mediocrity but a life of abundance!

In John 10:10 Jesus says “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”

When I mention abundant life I am not overlooking troubles that can come our way from time to time that can place great demands on our faith and our character. In John 16:33 Jesus was aware of these and said there will be “tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]  and He said this so that in Him “we may have [perfect]peace.”

This abundant life that Jesus speaks of in John 10:10 is created by the Author and Creator of life himself. The One who gave us life is the One who can give us our best life. God knows all about us and He has made each one of us a perfect and abundant life plan for our lives – imagine a life to the max – a life overflowing in abundance! A life of perfect peace! How can this be possible?

Getting Back to the Garden

What was life like in the Garden of Eden before the Fall and how do we get back there?

Here are a few observations about the Garden of Eden before the fall. The Garden was:

  • a place created by God for Adam and Eve to live and enjoy.
  • a place where God could enjoy and commune with His creation.
  • a place for Adam and Eve to fellowship with one another and to fellowship and commune with God.
  • a place for Adam and Eve to rule and to have dominion over all of creation.
  • a place that displayed the magnificence, creativity and glory of God.

I’ve had a revelation (which I don’t mind if you accept or reject) the Garden of Eden is no longer a physical place but a Spiritual place.

If the Garden of Eden is no longer a physical place but a Spiritual place how do we get back there?

Just before Jesus ascended He said to His disciples “don’t leave Jerusalem until you are baptized, empowered and united with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 1:4-5].

The key here is a life empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit comforts us, gives us peace, teaches us, counsels us, encourages us, exhorts us, gives us wisdom, gives us Spiritual gifts to help others, helps us to worship God, convicts us of sin, gives us strength, shows us the truth, guides us, helps us to pray, produces fruit in our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, and is always with us everywhere we go.

The Garden of Eden or Utopia or Shangri-La or Paradise or any other place of contentment or peace or rest are not found in a physical place but found in a place in our heart where Jesus comes to live with us by His Spirit.

Jesus says:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” [Matt 11:28-30]

True contentment or true peace or true rest for our souls is found in Christ alone. This is not a physical place (like the Garden of Eden) but it is a Spiritual place. It is a position or posture of our heart to receive the Good News about Christ, and to receive the infilling of His Holy Spirit. Then, as God’s Word says, “our new, real life is hidden with Christ in God” [Col 3:2-3] – the safest, most peaceful, most restful and most contented place we can find!

This life is available to everyone but not everyone finds this life:

See why in Matthew 13:1-23.

Chapter 1: Life in the Garden or Getting Back to the Garden
Communication and fellowship as it should be – life in the garden.

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Sorry about the title 🙂 but… I had a dream.

I had a dream last night.  It was pretty vivid, so vivid that you will think I am making this up.  Anyway…

There was this saw mill and it was having it’s ups and downs in business.  Some years it was pretty good and some years it was pretty lean.  The owner had left the saw mill a long time ago and it was up to the workers to run the saw mill.  As you can imagine, with the owner gone and the workers running the saw mill there was a whole gamut of issues that got in the way of a successful business.  I followed the ups and down of the saw mill in my dream.  Then, there was one thing I noticed over all of the years.  There was one person who had been with the business all along.  He was a quite, unassuming type of older fellow who just did his job.

Then, just minutes before I woke up, (I believe) the Lord showed me who that fellow was.  The revelation that I had was that the quite, unassuming fellow was the owner of the business!  THE OWNER HAD NEVER LEFT! He was always there, in the background, watching over the highs and the lows of the business, always having a subtle influence over its direction, but also always letting the workers make their mistakes but never allowing the whole business crash.

When I was fully awake the Word came to me: This is MY business.  The business will never fail because it is MINE.

Of course, I realised the Lord was talking about His Church:

This is MY Church, this is MY body. You may get it wrong and you may make mistakes, but I AM in it and I AM overseeing it and it will NEVER fail because it is MINE!

Update:
I see the owner that left, as God the Father. I see the quite, unassuming fellow, as Jesus. Sometimes He has influence and sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He gives direction and sometimes He doesn’t. That is (mainly) up to the workers. He (mostly) gives as much leading and direction as the workers allow Him BUT most of the time the workers think they know better. So the quite, unassuming fellow allows them to make mistakes and go their own way. He is still always in their midst, watching and waiting because ‘the business’ is ALL His anyway.

Jesus is watching and waiting for a people to listen to Him.

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave” (1 Kings 19:12-13)

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chron 16:9)

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What are some of the things that stop us working together as a community of God?

Pride (that is, my opinion is right and the best opinion – confidence in one’s own opinions)

Spiritual Pride (that is, just pride again but bringing God in to support your views)

Sin (that is, hidden and unhidden sin that distracts and also has people walking in the flesh and not the Spirit)

Lack of faith (that is, an unwillingness to trust and obey, so the default is working in your own strength)

Lack of Humility (that is, unable to sit under leadership – pride again)

Failing to see the church as Christ’s body in the world (lack of Biblical understanding and understanding of the heart of God)

People not truly Born Again (People walking in their own strength and not the Spirit)

Grumblers (People that not set free and who have pot shots from the side lines)

Procrastinators (People not set free and who are ruled by laziness and fears)

Glory Seekers (People who want to be in the limelight and who aren’t so therefore switch off or give a percentage of effort)

Satan (Satan is working hard at keeping us small and insignificant in the Kingdom of God through deception and distraction)

Lack of prayer and fasting (Seeking the Lord in everything that we do)

Time Issues (people not structuring their life and time around the body of Christ)

Financial Issues (people not supporting and structuring their finances in to the body of Christ)

Is there something else? I am sure there are heaps! But what about…

“Babel or Pentecost”

Jesus came to give us LIFE, TRUE LIFE, REAL LIFE, ABUNDANT LIFE! But what if we are not walking in the light and the life – is there something else that separates us?

In the Old Testament, tucked between the flood and the call of Abram(later Abraham) we have a story about the Tower of Babel…

Genesis 11:1-9
11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel — because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
NIV

The Lord caused confusion in the language of the people so that they could not understand each other – they could not work together and they were scattered. In other words the Lord took hold of their tongues to bring disharmony and confusion and scattering.

Contrast that with these verses in Acts…

Acts 2:1-12
2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs — we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” NIV

Again, God, by His Spirit, takes hold of peoples tongues, but this time not to scatter and bring confusion and disharmony but to usher in His Kingdom of God – a Christ centred community of love and oneness in Him and each other. The ‘curse of Babel’ that hinders mankind from working together in community is broken by the blood of Jesus! Oneness with God and oneness with each other is restored by the work of the cross though the power of His Holy Spirit.

Oneness

John 17:20-23
20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message [Ed:that’s us!]. 21 I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me. 22 I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one , just as you and I are one : 23 I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me. (GNT)

Just a thought…

Blessings

Steve

Sources:
http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/b16pent08.HTM
http://trinitychurchsutton.org.uk/Sermons/Sermon_904.htm
http://jewsforjesus.org/publications/newsletter/1998_05/babel
http://www.ubcmn.org/sermon20070527.htm
http://www.munachi.com/z/pentecosteve.htm
http://www.trinitycrc.org/sermons/ac02v04.html
http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9805/opinion/mouw.html

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This is what I have been thinking about…

May your Kingdom come
may your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven
Mt 6:10 (GNT)

What does the Kingdom of God look like?

Remember, Jesus prayed this prayer…

John 17:20-23
20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message [Ed:that’s us!]. 21 I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me. 22 I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one , just as you and I are one : 23 I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me. (GNT)

Is “oneness” with God and “oneness” with each other the goal?

Absolutely!

Is that achievable?

Absolutely!

Perhaps it looks something like this?

Acts 2:43-47
43 Many miracles and wonders were being done through the apostles, and everyone was filled with awe. 44 All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. 45 They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed. 46 Day after day they met as a group in the Temple, and they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts, 47 praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. (GNT)

Acts 4:32-35
32 The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God poured rich blessings on them all. 34 There was no one in the group who was in need . Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale, 35 and turn it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed according to the needs of the people. (GNT)

Is this what Heaven on earth really is?

Absolutely!

But how is this achievable?

ONLY THROUGH GOD’S SPIRIT!

The early church really had something going! Their prayer meetings rocked (Acts 2:2, Acts 4:31)! 🙂

Then there’s the Ananias and Sapphira Story

In Acts chapter 5 we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira who, as a result of being deceptive and lying about monies from a property sale, both died. Have a look at it.

Acts 5:1-11
5:1 But there was a man named Ananias, who with his wife Sapphira sold some property that belonged to them. 2 But with his wife’s agreement he kept part of the money for himself and turned the rest over to the apostles. 3 Peter said to him, “Ananias, why did you let Satan take control of you and make you lie to the Holy Spirit by keeping part of the money you received for the property? 4 Before you sold the property, it belonged to you; and after you sold it, the money was yours. Why, then, did you decide to do such a thing? You have not lied to people — you have lied to God!” 5 As soon as Ananias heard this, he fell down dead; and all who heard about it were terrified. 6 The young men came in, wrapped up his body, carried him out, and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, was this the full amount you and your husband received for your property?”
“Yes,” she answered, “the full amount.”
9 So Peter said to her, “Why did you and your husband decide to put the Lord’s Spirit to the test? The men who buried your husband are at the door right now, and they will carry you out too!” 10 At once she fell down at his feet and died. The young men came in and saw that she was dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 The whole church and all the others who heard of this were terrified. (GNT)

Why did they die?

Because of what the community had!

God’s love was lavishly poured out amongst His community. His Spirit was in them and amongst them in a most powerful and wonderful way. Therefore, there was this great clash between what the Spirit was doing in the community and the lies and deception of Ananias and Sapphira. In this context of God’s Spirit moving in great power what they did was like black and white – here was the potential to spoil – and it was very offensive to the Spirit – “the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely” James 4:5 NIV

Could this happen today?

That is, could somebody die because of their lies and deception against a community of God. Well, you have to ask, would the clash between the Christian community we belong to and the lies and deception be a great one or a small one? Would the “oneness of Spirit” in our community (and the power of God within it and the glory of God shining through it) be highly sensitive to the lies and deception or would the offense not be so great?

In an alive, Spirit filled, God glorifying community we can get away with nothing.  If what we have to contribute is something less than everything where does that leave us with our community?  If we all meet together half baked, half committed, compromised, asleep in the light, hidden sinned, where is that going to get us?  Woops, perhaps I’ve said too much.  Pray for Revival and it starts in our own hearts!

Can you see where I am coming from?

This is something to think and pray about…

Blessings,

Steve

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