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

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