Friday, September 7, 2012

Jason Hooper: An Invitation to Abundance: Come to the Waters

Jason Hooper:
An Invitation to Abundance:
Come to the Waters
Jason Hooper

We are rapidly approaching a threshold whereby we are about to step out of what's been and into the times we have believed for and prophesied would be. For several months, the Lord has been speaking to me about how we can posture ourselves to both recognize and be active participants in the coming outpouring of His Spirit.
The Lord has been downloading practical and spiritual preparations in the form of spiritual encounters where He has shared with me about becoming the wave, preparing for rain, and now He is inviting us to "Come to the Waters" while growing in our spiritual thirst – that we would be those who live from a place of overflow.
It's a time where the Lord desires to meet with us in a way that is far deeper and exponentially greater than we or any other people group have had the privilege to experience in times past. Stepping into this season will require a new level of faith that can only be found in our individual hearing of the Lord's voice and taking to heart the invitation that is being given in this hour.
An Invitation To Abundant Life
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1
In most versions of the Bible, this passage is titled "An Invitation to Abundant Life." Historically, this invitation was recognized as both a "call to" and a "call to come out from."
Isaiah brought this word as a call to those who had found themselves in a place of Babylonian captivity to come out from the worldly influences and idolatry that pervaded the society in which they lived. Although we might not be living in a day where we find ourselves in a natural form of captivity, many of our brothers and sisters have found themselves distracted from their true purpose by the cares of this world, and desires for other things that have entered in to choke the Word, causing it to become unfruitful in their lives (see Mark 4:19).
This is one area of "agreement" that Paul was referencing in 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 when He addressed being unequally yoked with unbelievers and those practicing lawlessness and darkness:
"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.' Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
If we properly recognize this pronounced season of coming personal visitation, and respond accordingly to the grace that is being given, I believe that we could be poised to see the literal fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Many have recently walked through a process of purification by fire and the washing of water with the Word in which the dross of these influences, along with the scars of our past, have been extracted from our DNA that we might be fully conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Proverbs 25:4; Ephesians 5:26-27; and Romans 8:29). Coming out of this season of refinement, those who have walked through His fire will be able to say with the Lord, "for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me" (John 14:30).
Everyone Who Thirsts
This invitation, however, is not given to everyone, but is specifically given to everyone who "thirsts" and to "you who have no money." That being said, these qualities, when properly understood, can be cultivated in each of us.
Thirst is a defining quality in our spiritual life. Thirst has a way of making the things we need the most become the most important thing to us. As we see in Psalm 63:1-2, David had this type of thirst:
"O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory."
Thirst dictates direction and brings with it a grace for radical sacrifice, as our pursuit of God's presence and the intimacy it brings becomes our highest priority. It was David's thirst that brought him into the place where he found the lovingkindness, mercy, and favor of the Lord to be far better than anything this world could ever offer.
This encounter and the revelation it brings is where true praise comes from (see Psalm 63:3). When we taste and see that the Lord is good, we can't help but praise Him (see Psalm 34:8)!
Last month we looked at how the grace of hunger can transform a barren wilderness into a place of fruitful harvest (see Psalm 107:35-37). In the same way that hunger brings revelation and transformation (see Deuteronomy 8:2-3), thirst initiates visitation. In short, hunger draws God to us while thirst draws us to Him.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:2
Come to Me and Drink
Jesus identified thirst as the necessary condition of those who would come to Him as the fountain of living waters (see Jeremiah 2:13 and Revelation 21:6).
On the last day, that great day of the feast [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:37-38
First we must be thirsty, second we come to Him, and third we must drink...we freely and fully receive what He is pouring into us. It is in our coming to Him and in our "receiving" from Him that our "becoming" begins to take shape and we are transformed.
We see in John's account of Christ's commissioning of His disciples in John 20:22"He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" It was not enough for Him to breathe on them, they had to partner with what He was pouring out by receiving and breathing it in until His breath and His life became theirs, just as God breathed His life into Adam in the beginning.
Just about every one of us today have the luxury of indoor plumbing and running water. However, for some, they can remember the days of having to go outside to draw their water from a well with a hand pump. To effectively draw water from one of these wells, the pump had to first be primed by pouring a cup of water from another water source into the opening of the pump.
The same is true for us. Before the fountain of living water is activated and awakened in us, we must first have our pumps primed. This was the truth that Jesus presented to the Samaritan woman in John 4:14:
"...Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
The Living Water that Jesus gives doesn't only give life; it becomes in us a producer of everlasting and abundant life! It is a well of Salvation, Healing, Deliverance and Prosperity that we joyously draw from (see Isaiah 12:3).
God's Blessings on Thirst
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring. Isaiah 44:3
In this passage Isaiah identifies four promised blessings that are accessed and activated from a place of thirst. Let's take a look.
• Personal Anointing
The Hebrew word used in this passage for "pour" is yatsaq, which is typically only used in terms of the pouring out of anointing oil when anointing someone for ministerial or governmental service. Therefore, the first blessing in this verse speaks of receiving a new level of personal anointing.
• Regional Revival
The second blessing is a corporate promise of revival and outpouring. This works in conjunction with the hunger of Psalm 107:35-36 that changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water.
• An Outpouring Among the Youth
The third promise contained in this verse is to our sons, daughters, and the generations to come. God promises to those who are thirsty that He will pour out His Spirit down throughout our family line.
Our thirst and resolve to see God move has the power to bring Heaven's rain in such a way as to transform entire cities. This is part of the truth that can be drawn from looking at what God did through Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival.
It was said of Roberts that he had a "thirst for spiritual things from an early age."
His thirst was contagious! This grace that was on him fell also onto the young people that he was leading, and the result was fervent prayer and passionate praise that not only transformed their city through the floods of revival but also sent a ripple effect throughout the world.
Many ask Can and will God do it again? I believe the answer lies within the chambers of our own hearts. If we will say yes to Him in the deepest part of who we are, He will say yes to us from the deepest part of Who He is.
Joel prophesied that when we turn to the Lord in repentance, the Lord responds by delivering and refreshing the land in a way that would restore all that the locust had eaten. An outpouring of His Spirit would follow this restoration that would awaken the ears of our sons and daughters to prophesy and the eyes of our young men to see visions (see Joel 2:12-30).
Many of the spiritual graces that we enjoy today are the result of the thirst and devotion of those who have gone before us, leaving an inherited blessing for us to experience today!
• Our Children Will Be Blessed
The fourth and final promise found in this verse is that the blessing of God would be on our children. The Hebrew word for blessing can also be translated "pools of prosperity."
Oftentimes we think of prosperity as financial success, and while that is a component of prosperity, it is only a part. True prosperity is simply success in every area of our life.
I don't know about you, but I want a fresh new level of anointing! I want to be continually revived and always live in a place of revelation that brings acceleration in my life! I want to see my city flooded with the goodness of God! I want my children and grandchildren to be anointed by the Spirit of God, and I want them to be prosperous and have good success in every area of their life.
Everyone Who Asks Receives
The Lord's desire to give good gifts to His children is outlined throughout the entire Bible (see John 3:16; Luke 11:9-13; Luke 12:32, etc). I can think of few "gifts" greater than that of thirst.
James pointed out that many of us do not have the things we truly desire in life because we simply do not ask for them (see James 4:2). James goes on to encourage us that when we come to God in faith believing for what only God can give while asking according to His will, not only does He give it to us, but He gives liberally!
So, let's take a moment right now and ask the Lord for His gift of thirst in our lives. Even if you would classify yourself as thirsting after God, I would encourage you to ask for more.
You Who Have No Money
In addition to inviting "everyone who thirsts" to "come to the waters," the Lord is also inviting you "who have no money, come buy and eat." Although at face value this invitation would appear to be related to your socioeconomic status, it really is much deeper than that.
There are several truths we can draw from this, the first being don't measure your ability or your grace to be used greatly in this season by what you have to offer in the natural. Secondly, the root word of the Hebrew word that was translated "money" in this passage can also be understood to mean fear.
The Hebrew word for "money" in this verse is "Keceph" (Hb #3701 in the Strong's Concordance). The word "Keceph" was used to identify silver currency, because of its pale color or lack of color. "Keceph" was derived from the Hebrew word "Kacaph" (Hb #3700 in the Strong's Concordance). "Kacaph" means to become pale, to pine after or to fear.
When Isaiah identified those "who have no money", he was speaking more so to the condition of one's heart than their financial means. As we see in the following passages from Hebrews and Romans, coming to God in faith is essential to receiving from Him.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
...whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23b).
With this understanding, we recognize the Lord is not identifying those who could buy wine, milk, and bread by the currency they possess in the natural. Rather, He is calling to those who have placed their faith firmly in Him and His heart for them.
Eat What Is Good
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Isaiah 55:2
The word "spend" means to "weigh out." We must be watchful not to squander our precious spiritual currency by fearfully weighing out worst case images and "what if" scenarios as opposed to feeding ourselves with every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (see Matthew 4:4).
This new season that we are entering into requires that we position ourselves as John the Beloved did in John 13:23-25, leaning upon the breast of the Lord while listening to the very heartbeat of God. Peter recognized that John had been granted greater access into the mysteries of God as a result of the relationship that He had cultivated in response to the love of the Lord toward Him.
We too must do all that we can to incline our ear and come to Him (see Isaiah 55:3a) that He might manifest Himself to us and make His home with us (see John 14:21, 23). Just as Peter looked to John, all of the world and much of the Church is looking to us to see and hear the words of Jesus. Let's give them Heaven!
Jason Hooper
WhiteDove Ministries

Jason Hooper is a prophetic revivalist and teacher with a passion to see God's Kingdom released through sound teaching, prophetic revelation, and demonstrations of God's power. With experience as a church planter, pastor, and itinerant minister, his ministry focuses on equipping and encouraging Believers to function as witnesses of God's power and messengers of His heart from a place of intimate friendship with God. Jason served as a key member of the pastoral team for MorningStar Fellowship Church in recent years, but now resides in Foley, Alabama, with his wife Tina and their three boys, Joshua, Caleb, and Samuel, as part of the WhiteDove Ministries family.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Your Sacred Ohana - by Grace Johnson

Grace and Peace to You from God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Our Father God is calling us to a new and fresh awakening . . . to find, cultivate and experience our own personal and sacred Ohana ~ a resting place ~ connecting us to Himself ~ where Shechinah and Glory dwell.

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of Glory, do we come
From God, Who is our Home”
William Wadsworth
Intimations of Immortality

Abraham our father left the certainty of the womb . . . for the wilderness.  Exiles from the garden.  Setting out, leaving everything behind.  The social milieu.  The preconceptions.  The narrowed field of vision.  The language.  Strangers in a strange land.  No longer expecting relationships, memories, words, to mean what they used to mean.  To be, in a word, open.

At the end of childhood, we are called to move out of immaturity into responsibility.  If we do not make this passage, if we attach ourselves to our childhood home as a mollusk does to a rock, we do not mature.  This much is obvious.  But what is not so obvious is what home means to each of us, when we need to leave it and how.

Home~leaving doesn’t necessarily mean you leave anything; sometimes someone leaves you.  Nor does it necessarily mean that anyone actually goes anywhere, because after all is said and done, what is left ~ or lost ~ is not a relationship or a place or even a contest.  What is left is a consciousness that once felt secure, had categories to fit things into, and knew who it was, where it was going, and why.  And what replaces this sureness is “not knowing.”  An openness.   And something unspeakable, and sometimes almost unbearably, new.

Perhaps the one decision we do not have to make about home leaving is when to do it.  Home leaving happens.  Dreams come.  Memories present themselves.  As sure as birth contractions come to separate us from the safety of the womb, some hidden timing stirs us, bringing a sense of readiness for the new.  We wake up one morning to find we are no longer able to squeeze into our old identity.  What used to feel secure and comforting now feels like life denying, and suddenly we know it is time to leave home.

“In order to gain our life, we have to lose it.”  Matt 16:25

Learning to trust the unfolding of one’s own life is awkward, painful work that often leaves one feeling exposed and vulnerable.  And it does not happen overnight.

Something begins to arise within us, a trust that something in our life itself is our teacher.  There is a gnosis, a direct inner knowing, that drives us.  Somehow deep inside us we know, it’s not somebody else’s tradition now, it is mine, and I have to follow it.  Finally you begin to see that there is not a person, place or thing you can trust ~ nobody, no authority ~ except the process itself.  Trusting your reality . . . the essence itself.

“Being Confident ~ He who began this work (in Me) will be faithful to complete it.”  Phil 1:6

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would not be hope for the wrong thing;
Wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing;
There is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are in the waiting”

The miracle of life waiting in the heart of a seed can not be proved at once.  The miracle comes with the waiting.  And the timing takes trust.

This yearning is essential because it comes from the immediacy of our lives, and that is just what we need to find and live from; the penetrating alertness that lets us connect with what is sacred.

Going through a gate or doorway is a metaphor of immense power, perhaps because it reminds us of how we enter this life.  Exiled from the safety of the womb by a hidden timing, sent on a journey through the straits of the birth canal, our passage is fraught with dangers.

Every child who enters the world through the birth canal believes ~ at least in part ~ that there is only one gate and that getting through it is a matter of life and death.  The message is unequivocal.  There is only one entrance to the sacred, and it is exclusive and exacting.

“Enter by the narrow gate . . . the gate that leads to life is small and the road narrow, and those who find it are few.”  Matt 7:13-14

From the mother’s perspective, the gate is as wide as it needs to be.  Unlike the fetus whose crowning achievement is successfully negotiating the birth canal, what is at issue for the birth giver is the willingness to surrender to and be opened by the rhythms of nature flowing though her.  To the extent that she pushes with her contractions and regulates her breathing, she acts in cooperation with the already ongoing process.

Thus two perspectives are potentially available to each one of us: the child’s view that the opening to the sacred is singular and narrow, and the mother’s perspective that the sacred is manifold and wide.  If only one possibility is presented to us, however, we may never recognize and value the other.  In particular, if we have been taught only the viewpoint of the child, we may deny the experience of the mother.

If we lock away the fearful, painful experiences of our lives, we cut them off from their natural cycling.  They are not washed by our tears.  They are not exposed to the warmth of our heart and the light of our consciousness.  And so these old emotions and memories can not break down to become sources of new life.

If there is an ethic in the way we come to spiritual maturity, it is one that places value on process, on acceptance of one’s whole experience of truth.  Entering this gate to the sacred marks a beginning, an engagement with the divine that does not seek to exclude darkness from the journey but regards it as a mystery to be solved in its own time.  Challenging us to take responsibility for our own progress . . .

"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. (Be whole and complete, in both shadow and light) Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." ~ “Be ye perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matt 5:48

Our part comes thought receptivity, through Grace.  We can prepare for this, but how and when it happens is not within our control.

The other part requires choice, an act of conscious intention to embody the sacred in our everyday lives.  This means we bring our spiritual insights into every aspect of our lives.  We have to keep stretching to believe and constantly trust the light inside.

Choice lies at the heart of the matter because even if we have not had a direct experience of the divine, once we make a conscious choice to act or what we do know, the process of spiritual maturing begins.

Once we are willing to embody the sacred inside our lives, our maturing can proceed.  We can say in effect, “I already know I am a child of God.  The question is, How can I be an adult of God?

As Marcia Falk, a poet and professor of religious studies tell us . . .
“We’ve been stuck in a childhood relationship with a parental God figure, but we can’t afford to be there anymore.  Far from being arrogant, what this means is taking responsibility, so that we can really, deeply celebrate divinity.  Which is a better gift to your parents?  To fulfill your own life and to care for the lives around you . . . or to remain in constant dependency?  The sick parent may prefer the latter, but that’s not my notion of divinity: I don’t want a sick parent for God.”

It is when we want to become an adult of God that we look for tools to cultivate our own sacred garden ~ our Ohana.   Until this point, we have no need for tools because we are eating spiritual convenience food, the products of someone else’s cultivation.  But now we are ready for a spade, a hoe, a rake, some compost, and perhaps a knowing friend to help us.

Just as any plot of soil with seeds and sun and water can become a garden if there is a gardener, so can our lives come to spiritual maturity, if we are willing to cultivate them.  To cultivate, in its root form means to inhabit, to dwell within.  Learning how to live in the dayliness of our lives while opening continually to the sacred seems to take practice – practice in opening, practice in listening, practice in waiting.  Practice in obeying our inner direction, in speaking out when we are moved to do so and accepting responsibility and authority when we are called upon to be bold.  And practice also means celebrating and expressing gratitude and making a joyful sound unto the Lord.  When we enter such practices wholeheartedly, we bring to life another root meaning of cultivate : to worship

Worship & Prayer, the act of communing with the divine, is perhaps the most universal tools we know for cultivating the sacred garden.  There is in us, it seems, some deep human need for connecting with the truth.  And the most direct and accessible way is through worship & prayer.

As the artist Meinrad Craighead said,
Being open to the voice within is how your life happens.  
Again and again, it plunges you into the unknown.”

What is required, it seems is a willingness to commit yourself to the whole; known, unknown, and the unknowable ~ and to trust the path your indwelling truth is showing you.

Too often we wait for the guru, the teacher, the husband or father figure, the wife or mother figure, to approve before we take a step of faith.  Or we never take it at all. 
We have to begin now to give ourselves permission to trust the process ~ even if it takes a lifetime.

“In the beginning everything was in relationship,
And in the end everything was in relationship again.
In the meantime,
We live by hope.”
Jane Lanier

To quote the ecologist and Theologian Thomas Berry,
“It is as if we are in between stories.  The old story about who we are and how to live doesn’t work anymore, and we don’t know what the new story is.  Yet we desperately want to find this new story.  We want to know how to live in a context of relationship and not betray ourselves.  The challenge is to be intimate with another and still remain true to ourselves.  When we deny our innermost knowing, silencing our voice in the hope of pleasing others, we avoid this challenge.  But we also avoid it when we listen only to ourselves.”

In the presence of someone who is real, we take off our veils of illusion.  The other person doesn’t have to tear them off.  We just automatically drop them, either that, or we have to get out of their presence.

If you know who you are, and can be true to your own reality, you won’t be threatened by my reality.  In fact, you’ll affirm my difference because you’ll know that’s just what I need to activate my deepest talents and gifts.  Through searching for and finding our connectedness we gather together what has been lost or forgotten or disowned and welcome it into our lives.

There is a Hebrew word that describes this action : it is tikkun.  Tickkun means to heal, to mend what has been broken, to transform.  In the beginning of the world, the legend which is the source of the word goes, the abundant divine light was held in primeval vessels.  But somehow ~ no one knows how ~ the vessels were shattered, and discord and confusion spread everywhere.  The great task for human beings, the story tells us, is to repair the ancient vessels, to gather together the scattered light, to call home all those who have been lost or in exile, to heal the separation and bring peace to the world.

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done,
Then they begin to hope it can be done,
Then they can see it can be done ~
Then it is done
All the world wonders why it was not done centuries before.”
Francis Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden

The Savior is spread out among us, emerging from each of us as we bring the fruits from our sacred garden ~ into our daily lives.  Our challenge is to go into the great womb (God’s Ohana) where all possibilities dwell and bring His Glory & Shechinah ~ the Christ Child out!

Imagine :

“The gates of thousands upon thousands of sacred gardens are being flung open from within, accompanied by laughter that cannot be contained.  And with the laughter comes speech, because in our exuberance we are no longer able to silence ourselves.”                             
Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Sacred Garden

Oceans of Unconditional Love &
Aka: Grace Johnson

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Upper Room Is Needed . . .

First written by G Johnson on ~ Mar 26, 1992 and 
Rewritten / Updated May 14, 2012.

To All Of God’s Precious Children ~

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father 
through Christ Jesus our Lord.

We all are in desperate need of an ongoing “Upper Room” experience. 
A place to consciously choose to accept our humanness ~
to celebrate our being born again and to celebrate absolute recovery of
God’s Kingdom within each one of us!

Contemplate with me for a few minutes about what happened in the 
Upper Room,the response of the disciples when Jesus ascended into 
Heaven and what happened to them because of it.

“ Men and Women of Galilee” (also, you and me!) – “Why do you 
just stand  here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who 
was taken up from among  you to heaven will come as certainly —
and mysteriously — as he left."  Acts 1:11

In like manner … 
Christ became what we are in order to make us what He is.
Jesus Christ went in order to return, and in the meantime, an 
invaluable spiritual principal in being imparted to us . . . 
Our life in Him will know an 
alteration  in our relationship with Him.  
God is calling us to be open to change  in our lives . . . 
to the times when he will leave us and return in a deeper way.  
These withdrawals are to draw us into 
the next stage of growth with Him.

It isn't that He literally leaves us, 
for He promised to be with us always, 
but He brings closure to a phase of our pilgrimage 
in order to open a new depth in our relationship with Him.  
If it seems if we have lost Him,
 it is only that He is down the road calling us 
to a new dimension of adventure of knowing Him more profoundly.

The transition sometimes breaks our hearts.  
But our hearts are not made of frail glass;
they are more like clay on the Potter’s wheel.  
And our Potter has a magnificent design for us to follow: 
His own nature, which becomes ~ 
Our Joy! 

"Father, remove this cup from me. But please, 
not what I want.  What do you want?" 
Luke 22:42

Assisting us to understand more clearly this statement made 
at the end of His life on amount called Olivet . . . 
us know in no uncertain terms, that NONE of us get to
be Stage Manger of our Lives, except ~ 
God Himself!

The time and manner of our transformational growth will be of God’s 
choosing, not our own. 
It will take place in an Upper Room where we wait patiently on God 
to reveal His Spirit.

“So they left the mountain called Olives and returned to Jerusalem. 
It was a little over half a mile. They went to the upper room they 
had been using as a meeting place: 
Peter, John,James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, 
Matthew, James, son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas, 
son of James. 
14They agreed they were in this for good, completely together 
in prayer,  the women included. 
Also Jesus' mother, Mary, and his brothers.” 
Acts 1:12-14

It is in this Upper Room where we begin to consciously 
choose to accept our humanness . . .in all things.  
We begin to wait on God and pray anticipating His return ~ together. 
And this sets the stage for 2 things to happen that must be central in 
our preparation for Pentecost.   
The 2 are part of one experience.  
We pray together and we have a profound time of reconciling 
relationships with God, ourselves and others.

"If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. 
If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?" 
John 20:22-23

Contemplate with me again of all the people who were waiting together 
in prayer in the upper room … there had been competition among the
 disciples and there must have been residue of criticism of each other.  
Peter denied the Lord, 
Thomas has doubted and James ans John had wrangled 
over who was greatest 
and what position they would have in Jesus’ Kingdom.  
there had been bad feelings between Jesus’ family and his disciples.  
His mother and brothers had tried to dissuade Jesus and had come to
take him home to Nazareth on at least one occasion.  From the cross, 
Jesus assigned John the responsibility of His Mother and we are sure 
John was sorting out what that would mean in the light of the 
challenges Jesus had given them on Olivet before departing.

Then, added to that mix were people whom Jesus healed from sins that 
no good Jew could tolerate.  Had the disciples ever worked through their 
real feelings about a person like Mary Magdalene?  
With Jesus absence, they were confronted by the fact that their
relationship always had been cushioned by 
His gracious acceptance of them.  
Did they feel as He did?  And ~ what about the Pharisee Nicodemus?  
Was he really one of them? 
He was a member of the Sanhedrin and yet had not been able to stop 
the excruciating thing the Jewish leaders had done to their Lord.  The
Pharisee had shown his loyalty by asking for the body of Jesus and
 assisting in His burial. 
 But could he be trusted? 
And what about rich, Joseph of Arimathea?  
He had provided the tomb in the garden outside the city wall.  
And with all that Jesus said about the rich and our responsibility
for the poor, was his presence a genuine concern?  
If he had provided the tomb, probably
as a secret admirer and follower of the Lord, 
was he really to be accepted among the inner
band of loyal followers?

A strange mixture of humanity was gathered there in the Upper Room.  
Each had his own agenda for being there ~
 the knowledge of what Jesus had meant to each of them.  
But what were they to each other 
except people who had a common loyalty to Jesus?  
And He was gone!  They now had to sit and wait . . . 
open their hearts to one another . . . share their loneliness,
their grief over Jesus absence and their wonderment about the future.  
Here were rich and poor, people of high social status. 
and reclaimed people 
whose lives would never have touched each other apart from Jesus.

The family and disciples had little upon which to build a relationship.  
Had there been hostility among Jesus’ brothers resulting from the 
feeling that Jesus had spent time with a motley band of fisherman, 
a tax collector, and a zealot ~ with no time for his own family? 
And had the disciples resented the filial protectiveness 
of Jesus’ family?

Surely! . . .  
Put yourself into this drama of human relationship.

A common grief can open strangers / aliens to one another.  
It can begin to build relationships. 
And it can put conflicts between friends into perspective.  
Mutual need can break through the
fabric of hurting memories of what we have said or done 
to each other.
And yet it is a shared hope that galvanized these people.  
A frail thread of anticipation in each of the people in the Upper Room 
was woven into a strong bond of oneness.
In this Upper Room, 
I believe differences were confessed, hurts were shared and 
reconciliation was started.  
What was to begin to happen to them (and us) 
would be the only lasting basis of true relationship, 
and the immensity of Jesus promise before he forced them (and us)
to get ready by being open to one another.

“When the Feast of Pentecost came, 
they were all together in one place.” 
Acts 2:1

Prayer brings unity.  
We can’t begin to seek the loving heart of the Lord for long without
recognizing the needs of our relationships with 
the brother’s and sister’s with whom we pray.  
Surely Jesus’ followers huddled together in prayer, 
remembering what he had assured them . . .

"Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; 
a no on earth is no in heaven.  
What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. 
When two of you get together on anything at all on earth 
and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. 
And when two or three of you are together because of me, 
you can be sure that I'll be there."
Matt 18:18-20

We wonder what they prayed about.  
I think it was the disciples’ report of what Jesus promised in those 
hours before ascension.  That they should not depart from Jerusalem
but wait for the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit and the power 
He was to give them and (us!)   
A sublime reason for an Upper Room experience / prayer meeting 
in any age.

And this brings us back to our need for an Upper Room Experience 
of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit making prolonged prayer and 
getting right with God, ourselves and others 
more than elements of good preparation, 
they are an ongoing necessity!

“If my people, who are called by my name, 
will humble themselves and pray 
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, 
then I will hear from heaven, 
and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
 2 Chronicles 7:14

It is now our personal responsibility before the Lord to create 
an ongoing Upper Room experience 
where we can continue to prepare our hearts for Pentecost.  
To pray for the Holy Spirit and to be sure 
there is nothing in our relationships with God, ourselves and
others blocking full acceptance of the blessing that follows.

We need to ask the Lord to reveal to us if there is 
anything un-confessed in us or between God, ourselves and others.  
And if there is ~ we may be in need of radical surgery by the
Holy Spirit to change our attitude to uncover unhealed memories 
or unguided plans for our future 
which never had the Lord’s blessing or direction.

The Lord wants to bless each and every one of us with His Spirit.  
Prayer and reconciled  relationships with God, ourselves and others
 is  the place to begin and then to begin again 
and again all through our Christian adventure.

Because His Oceans of Unconditional Love Compel Me,

Aka: Grace Johnson