with Jeremy Westcott –
God speaks to us in a flow of spontaneous revelation. He communicates through thoughts, pictures, feelings, and impressions which we need to pick up. We need to be able to tune in to them; to see, feel, hear, and touch them. Scripture may be the basis for this, but the Bible is the beginning of experience, not the end of it.
The written word becomes a doorway to encounters with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, with our Father. It also becomes an anchor for experiences we have now and a platform for further experiences still to come. We can go to the Bible, and find out if there is a scripture which talks about aspects of our experience. That is what I mean by finding an anchor in the written word.
In the song Nigel wrote, we sing that we want to meet Him ‘face to face’. That is a reality we can all enjoy, here and now.
The Hebrew word for ‘know’ means ‘to experience by personal encounter’, and it is possible for us to have experiences, encounters, visions, dreams, and revelation. Scripture is full of examples of such things.
I want to encourage you, if you want to benefit from encounters with God, write them down. Journal everything so that you can go back to it, review it, meditate upon it, and draw further revelation. You can also revisit the experience. The more we repeat experiences, the more our brain learns to value and store those experiences, rather than forgetting and shredding the memories.
There are three stages of experience with God that we might identify:
These are snapshot pictures or moving pictures, as seen from the outside, a kind of 3rd person experience of seeing ourselves or someone else.
In these we experience something in the 1st person, and are involved ourselves in the ‘action’. This may involve being in a trance, such as the one Peter had on the rooftop when God showed him a sheet coming down from heaven full of animals; or even being translated.
If you think all this sounds very much like the New Age, that is because devotees of the New Age have experienced something of what the Bible talks about, but have experienced it in a way that does not connect it with God (to be fair, that is hardly surprising when we have done such a good job of telling them that they are themselves separated from Him. They are not). And now religion tells us that we cannot touch it. Huge sections of the church have swallowed – and proliferated – that particular lie. And if you are worried it is too much like eastern religion, ask yourself where the Bible comes from. Not America. Not the UK. It comes from the Middle East, and that is the cultural setting which must inform our grasp of what it says.
Paul wrote that he didn’t know whether he was in or out of his body when he went into the heavens. The western mindset has a hard time with statements like that. Ezekiel was taken out of his body, and his spirit was transported into Jerusalem so that he could see what was happening there. These experiences are for us, too. The Holy Spirit can come and take us to different places on the earth, and to different places in heaven, and we may not know whether we were there in body, or in spirit, or both.
The reason for all this is to enable us to bring heaven to earth.
This is when we live in the dual realms of heaven and earth simultaneously, as Jesus did:
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven (John 3:13, my emphasis). Jesus was on earth, speaking to Nicodemus, but said He was in heaven at the same time.
That is how Jesus was able to see the things the Father was doing, because He was in constant spiritual connection with the Father in the heavenly realms. Whatever Jesus did, He has made available for us. He said “You will do the works that I do, and greater works than these, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). He went to open up this door for us, this avenue into the heavenly realms.
Open the eyes of our heart
We can see with our natural eyes, but at the same time we can also see with our spiritual eyes, and flow in revelation which comes from God’s presence. This is where meditation becomes so important. Meditation is the biblical process for opening the eyes of our heart to see; to encounter the truth of who God is and the truth of His word in practical, experiential ways.
Here are some dictionary definitions of meditation: the act of focusing one’s thoughts: to ponder, think on, muse, reflect, contemplate, babble, mutter, imagine; to murmur; to converse with oneself; to ruminate (chew the cud and extract all the goodness from it).
It is not madness to speak to yourself. I speak to myself all the time. As we speak aloud, we are communicating the things of God to our spirit, which will grow and engage with the word. And using our imagination is very much part of the process of meditation. If we are ‘just imagining it’, what is wrong with that? It is how God speaks to us.
Music is very useful in meditation. It provides a platform which engages our imagination. The right side of our brain is where creativity and imagination reside. When we speak in tongues, scientists have found that it is the right side of our brain which is engaged in that activity. And the right side of the brain activates better, and more blood physically flows there, when we are at rest. So it is best to meditate when we are in a state of relaxation, which we can achieve by calming ourselves, taking deep breaths, and so on. Again, this is not wrong: it is simple and sensible preparation of our body.
Logos to rhema
Meditation turns the logos (written, fixed word) into the rhema word (spoken, to us, now), stirring faith from which we can live. It turns head knowledge into personal experience, and enables us to hear the voice of God. In meditation, God can use a scripture to speak to us (sometimes completely out of context – He wrote it and He can use it however He wishes), to get across to us something He wants us to hear and understand.
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8).
Meditating will enable me to prosper. In my destiny, in what God has called me to do in my life, I want to prosper; I want to succeed and excel to the highest level.
Don’t you want the same?
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