Knowing Christ

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 The Coronation of the Virgin with Adoring Saints c1370-1 attributed to Jacopo di Cione – National Gallery London

Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 16.17

The Church’s foundation is not only Christ but the knowledge of Christ. The tragedy today is that many of us in the Church lack such foundation. We do not know Him. To us He is a theoretical or doctrinal Christ, not a revealed Christ. But theory will not prevail against hell, which is what Jesus declares his church is to do. Have we perhaps forgotten what we are for? Visiting Western homes I have sometimes seen a beautiful porcelain plate, not to put to use on the table, but wired and hung up to the wall as a treasured ornament. Many, it seems to me, think of the Church like that, as something to be admired for the perfection of its form.  But no, God’s Church is for use, not decoration. An appearance of life may seem to suffice when conditions are favourable, but when the gates of hell come out against us, we know well enough, that what we each need above all is a God-given vision of His son. It is first-hand knowledge that counts in the hour of testing

Watchman Nee, A Table in the Wilderness, September 5th

 

The Coronation of the Virgin with Adoring Saints c1370-1 attributed to Jacob di Cione, National Gallery London

Part of the main tier of the high altarpiece of San Pier Maggiore in Florence. The altarpiece was probably designed by Niccolo di Pietro Gerini, a Florentine artist with whom Jacopo di Cione often collaborated.

Pray with Heart and Voice

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 Saint Gildard Convent Nevers, statue of St Bernadette praying

 

He said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. Mark7:21

The question is sometimes asked: Does the exercise of a ministry of prayer, so vital to the Christian, call for utterance, or is it enough if we bear our burdens silently before God? I believe the answer is that if God gives a burden of prayer, he does indeed want it to be uttered. He wants audible expression given to it, however few and disjointed the words we may use. No burden can be discharged without this expression. Even our Lord himself in Gethsemane “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying”. It seems to me that in spiritual things there is an amazing link between faith and utterance. God not only takes account of what we believe, he takes account of what we say. The Syrophoenician woman spoke only a sentence, but as a result of this she returned to her house to find the devil gone!

Watchman Nee – A Table in the Wilderness – September 2nd.

 

Jesus as King and Warrior

 

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 Ugolino di Nerio Panel from the Santa Croce Altarpiece c1324-5 National Gallery London

The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.  Revelation 1: 14-16

In the book of Revelation God shows us an aspect of His Son not shown to us in the gospels. In the gospels we see Him as Saviour, in Revelation we see Him as King. The one displays His love, the other His majesty. In the upper room Jesus girds Himself about His waist for service: at Patmos He is discovered girt about the breasts for war.  In the gospels His mild eyes melt Peter; in Revelation they are as a flame of fire. There His voice is gentle, calling His own sheep by name, and gracious words proceed out of His mouth; here His voice is terrible as the sound of many waters, and from His mouth a sharp two-edged sword strikes death to His foes. It is not enough that we know Jesus as Lamb of God and Saviour of the world; we must also know Him as God’s King, God’s Judge. When we see Him as Saviour we exclaim “How lovable!” and lean on his bosom. When we see Him as Monarch we cry “How terrible!” and fall prostrate at His feet.

Watchman Nee, A Table in the Wilderness, June 9th

Jesus pours out His love on us but He also fights our corner.

 

Ugolino di Nerio, Panel from the Santa Croce Altarpiece, c1324-5, National Gallery London

This panel comes from an altarpiece painted for the high altar of the Franciscan church of Santa Croce in Florence. The altarpiece was dismantled in the 16th century but its original appearance was recorded in an 18th century drawing. Many of the panels are now lost.

Deep Calls to Deep

 

 

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 La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, The Passion Wal

 

Deep calls to deep        Psalm 42:7

Only deep can answer deep. Nothing that is merely of the shallows can respond to the depths, and only what goes deep in us can meet the deep needs of others. If we want to help those who are passing through floods, we must have been through floods ourselves. Have we a history of God’s secret dealings, or does what men see represent all we have got? Many of us are shallow. We only seem to grow outwardly, with nothing in reserve. If we choose to live on the surface of things, we may be of some help to folk in need, but the happiness we bring them will pass. We shall not have been really able to meet them where they are. Paul had a secret he kept for fourteen long years, and what help has its eventual disclosure brought! When we have found God speaking to us in the depths, then it is we possess treasures of darkness to share with others in their hour of trial

Watchman Nee – A Table in the Wilderness, June 8th.

Worship is Priceless

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 Virgin and Child, Hans Memling, c1475 National Gallery London

 The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers. John 4:23

The decalogue opens with God’s claim to exclusive worship. This expression of God’s will is not only His command, it is also His desire. But if the ten commandments show us what gives God joy, the temptations in the wilderness reveal what will give joy to Satan. In both cases it is worship. So we have one thing that both God and Satan want. By it we can satisfy either heaven or hell. Worship is priceless. Satan’s whole idea is to rob God of it by ensnaring His people into some kind of idolatry. Idolatry claims another, besides God, to be worthy of worship. It is our privilege to counter this by holding it exclusively for God.

Watchman Nee, From ‘The Table in the Wilderness’, June 16th.

Psalm 24

Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Saviour.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.[

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty –
    he is the King of glory.

 

 

 

 

The Virgin, who has a halo of golden rays, holds the naked Child on a white cushion. His mouth is slightly open and he raises his right hand as if in blessing.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

 

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 Saint Veronica with the Sudarium, c1420, National Gallery London

 

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Matthew 5:41

A brother in South China had a rice field in the middle of the hill. In time of drought he used the water-wheel worked by a treadmill to lift water from the irrigation stream into his field. His neighbour had two fields below his, and one night he made a breach in the dividing bank and drained of all his water. When the brother repaired the breach and pumped in more water his neighbour did the same thing again, and this happened three or four times. So he consulted his brethren. “I have tried to be patient and not to retaliate,” he said, “but is it right?” After they had prayed together about it one of them observed, “if we only try to do the right thing, surely we are very poor Christians. We have to do something more than what is right.” The brother was much impressed. Next morning he pumped water for the two fields below and in the afternoon pumped water for his own field. After that the water stayed in his field. His neighbour was so amazed at his action that he began to enquire the reason, until in due course he too found Christ.

“Right or wrong” is the principle of the Gentiles and tax gatherers (verse 46). Not that, but conformity to Him, must govern my life.

Watchman Nee from ‘A Table in the Wilderness’ Daily Meditations from the ministry of Watchman Nee, March 22nd.