Archive for January, 2011

RESTORATION OF THE BRIDE(Pt. 4)

Of all the images of the Bride of Christ in the scriptures, none is more enchanting than that found in the Song of Songs. There are four engaging scenes as the Bridegroom both seeks and ultimately wins his Bride:

(1st) Wooing his beloved — ‘‘Because of the savor of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee. Draw me; we will run after thee’’(SOS 1:3-4a KJV). Those who recognize the power of the name of Jesus also recognize the fragrant beauty of the Name. Peter reminds us, ‘‘Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved’’(Acts 4:12 KJV). Again, concerning her beloved, “He brought me to his banqueting table, and his banner over me was love”(SOS 2:4). In every detail of the wooing grace of His Spirit, the Lord Jesus pursues us by His love. ‘‘And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him’’(1 Jn. 4:16). The romance of His love draws people to Himself.

(2nd) Captivating her – She extols his virtue, describing his character to her friends who inquire as to what makes this one unique. In SOS 5:10-16, she describes her attraction to him from head to feet. He is fairer than 10,000 to her. And although she talks of his loveliness from head to foot, she returns to ‘‘his mouth’’. Does our description of Christ Jesus include his mouth? * We cannot live without his mouth. Jesus said, “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’ (Lk. 4:4) There should come a cry from our hearts, ‘‘Let me see your face! Let me hear your voice! For your voice to me is sweet’’. It was by the voice of the LORD that things were created in the beginning (Genesis 1).   Again,it is by the ‘‘Word of His power that He upholds all things’’(Heb. 1:3). In a world when many things are shaking and unstable it is comforting to know the voice of His Word that sustains and supports. ‘‘The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God abides forever’’(Isa. 40:8).

(3rd) Winning the Beloved — As she fellowships with her beloved her language changes from merely knowing his love for her to her devotion toward him. She declares, “I am my beloved’s, and he is mine’’(SOS 6:3).

Winning the beloved is more than a periodic “peck on the cheek” as it were. It will take effort on our part. Notice: ‘‘All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him. I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him. The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. “Have you seen the one my heart loves?” Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me”(SOS 3:1-4).

If we are to win Christ it will mean we are willing to do what before may have been inconvenient. We no longer lie as it were on a bed of ease waiting for Him to come to us. We take off the things of sloft and dress ourselves for journey even at midnight to find Him whom our soul loves.

One of the signs of Christian maturity is that we ‘‘put away childish things’’(1 Cor. 13:11). Other things will also have to be forsaken. Take the words of the apostle Paul for our pattern: “The things that were gain to me, I count them loss…that I might apprehend what I was apprehended for”(Read Phil. 3:7-12).  Reaching Out and Reaching Up means learning to Let Go.

(Finally) Transforming love – Having been pursued and now pursuing the Lover, we experience the mystery of the power of the Bridegroom’s transforming love and grace. Notice: “My dove, my perfect one, is unique, the only daughter of her mother, the favorite of the one who bore her. The maidens saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines praised her. Friends, Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession?” (SOS 6:9-10 NIV). How did she become transformed in this way?  She had been for a season in the wilderness with her beloved, and had learned the hidden secret  of all transforming grace…She has learned to unconditionally trust His lead and find her rest in Him.  She is “leaning on her beloved”(SOS 8:5). She longs to bare upon her heart and arm the seal of the fire of His love (Read SOS 8:6).  The “heart” is the seat of our affections.  The “arm” symbolizes the works that we do in His name and strength.

Here is her summation of his transforming love upon her. ‘‘Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned”(SOS 8:7). She is not ashamed to let it be known that she is so joined to her bridegroom that, as someone has put it, she is a part of the company of ‘‘the Fellowship of the burning heart’’.    John heard in heaven, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.   Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)  Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”(Rev. 19:7-9)

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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Restoration of the Bride(Pt. 3)

Weddings in the scriptures (and in many parts of the world today) are very elaborate affairs. It’s not merely the choosing of the dates, the place, and sending out the invitations. In addition to the Bride choosing her bridal gown, attendees, etc…there was the “search” on part of the Bridegroom for his bride to be. This may take a considerable amount of time, effort and the families’ coming to an agreement as to the acceptable terms for the bride’s hand in marriage. Take for example the story of Abraham searching for a bride for his son, Isaac.

In Genesis 24, we read, “Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac”(Genesis 24:1-4).

Abraham, a beautiful picture of God the Father, is very particular as to whom his son should marry. God has ordained that His Son, Jesus Christ, should have a Bride suitable for Him. We note that Eliezer, the chief servant, could be likened unto the Holy Spirit sent into the world to draw men unto Christ, to make Him known to those who have faith. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you”(John 16:13-15 NIV).

Where is the chief servant to find Isaac’s bride? Among the family of Abraham, not among the Canaanites. Not any old bride will do. They must come from the family of faith. They must be compatible to and have the family “DNA”. Today, there is much that is compromised in the walk of God’s people. Too much of the world and her ways are “acceptable” norms among God’s family. John the apostle wrote to the church of Thyatira, “These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze: ‘I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality ….I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer…unless they repent of their ways”(Rev. 2:18-22 NIV). Jesus our Bridegroom’s eyes burn with jealousy for His Bride , the Church, that she be pure and undefiled from the world.

Again, John wrote, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does—come not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever”(1 Jn. 2:15-17)

Like Abraham’s chief servant, the Holy Spirit has been sent into the world to find a bride for the Father’s son. How will he know which one is the true bride? If you read Genesis 24 you will discover some unmistakable traits of the bride, Rebekah:

(1) She had a servant’s attitude (Gen. 24:40-46). She was willing to water the servant’s camels, which was no easy task , but it was a labor of love. Jesus looks for those who model the heart like His of servanthood. In the kingdom of God greatness is modeled by service for others. (2) She received not only gifts, but an abundant of precious things(Gen. 24:52-53). Gifts are wonderful, but the inner beauty of the heart is even more desirable in a bride. (3) She loved Isaac, not because she had seen him, but because of what she had heard about him (Gen. 24:55-60). A true hallmark of the true Bride of Christ is “We love Him Whom we’ve not seen”(Read1 Pet. 1:8-9 NIV ). It requires the eye of faith. We believe not for what He gives us, but for what we are becoming in Him. John wrote, “Dear friends, now we are the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure”(1 Jn. 3:2-3 NIV). Selah.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

Restoration of the Bride (Pt. 2)

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment”(Matthew 9:20-22).

Are you, like me, amazed at the paradoxes of this life? For example, for all our scientific and technological advances, we have managed to send people to the moon and bring them back , but have not found a cure for the common cold. Or we can tell you the nature and age of a pre-historic bone, but cannot discern the difference between “tissue in a womb” and that which we call a baby. Sometimes in our human learning and brilliance we are not humble enough to acknowledge that apart from God we have become fools. I did not say that…the scriptures declare, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”(Prov. 1:7 NIV). Too often, in our human learning and knowledge we leave God out of the equation, and for all our learning we come up empty, without solutions. In many ways, I see this analogy in the story told of the woman who had the condition of bleeding for twelve years.

She obviously sought to be healed and made whole. She had placed herself under the care of many doctors but found no cure. Further, she spent all she had but was not better. I can only imagine the despair she must have lived in with this chronic condition…12 long years. I suggest that we could apply these physicians of her day, to many “religious” physicians today. They may offer help to people, but no hope; they may offer a religious system, but it lacks life, Zoe-the God life. Religion without life will always offer a program(s) as “remedies” for a sin-sick soul, but too often leaves God’s Bride no better. Religion without His life may bring an accurate diagnosis of sin’s condition, but offer no cure (Read Romans 7:7-25). The apostle Paul acknowledged this as his own condition before his conversion. For all his religious and academic brilliance in understanding the Law, it only brought him to despair. He recognized that he did not have the power to fulfill its requirements. He cries out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:24 NIV)

This woman with the issue of blood may well represent the condition of his Bride in these last days: helped but not healed; diagnosed but not given a cure. Paul warned that in the last days people would accept “a form of godliness, but deny the power”. Today in many parts of God’s family, religion has never been at such an all-time high (Buildings, programs, radio and television, etc…), but the power to effect lasting spiritual change in our society is at an all-time low.

There is an image in Isaiah chapter 4 that may describe the present condition. “In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, ‘We will eat our own food (bread) and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace’ (Isaiah 4:1).” I use this as a prophetic picture for today:

Seven women: 7 is the biblical number for completeness. Women in the bible are often a picture of the true Bride or a false Bride. I suggest that Isaiah’s picture is a picture of the false Bride. She takes hold of “one man”, that one man being Christ (c.f. Eph. 2:15b). She says, “We have our own bread”. Bread often pictures “doctrine or teaching”. Again, “We have our own garments”. Garments are a picture of spiritual adornment. In other words, “We have our own doctrines or teachings that satisfy us (maybe even ‘tickle the ears’), and we have our own self-styled garment (as ‘our’ righteousness). But what we need is ‘your Name’ to take away our reproach.” In other words, “We want the appearance of being ‘in Christ’ (the Name of Christian) without the true teaching and righteousness that comes from Christ alone.”

Friends, when Christ comes back for His Bride she will not be inferior to Him. She will look and talk like her Beloved. Christ wants to restore His Bride in this hour with ”the washing of the water of His word”, and that “she would be without spot, wrinkle, or blemish”(Eph. 5:26-27). May we take hold of the One Man, Christ Jesus, in such a way as to be made whole and ready for Him in this critical hour.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

Restoration of the Bride(Pt.1)

RESTORATION OF THE BRIDE (Pt. 1)

In this new year I believe we need to consider a subject that is very dear to the heart of God. . . namely, the restoring of the Bride of Christ in this hour. Women have often symbolized the true Bride or a false Bride in the scriptures. There are times that God will describe His people as being wounded or sick spiritually. For example, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Your whole head is injured and your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head, there is no soundness, only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.(Isaiah 1:5b-6 NIV)” Later, wehear his plaintive cry: “But this is a people robbed and spoiled. They are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses. They are for a prey, and none delivereth. . for a spoil, and none saith ‘Restore’.”(Isaiah 42:22 KJV)

This brings me to the story found in Matthew’s Gospel. It is the story of the woman who had suffered for twelve long years at the hands of the physicians,but was not cured (Read Matthew 9:20-22). I suggest that this woman is a picture of what is happening to God’s Bride, His Church, in many places today. She has suffered from a chronic condition (spiritually speaking) of an “issue of blood”. The scriptures remind us that “the life of the flesh is in the blood”(Lev.17:11).

If we liken this woman to the Church’s condition in many parts of our nation and the world, there is much loss of life in the Body. Recently, I have spoken to many of God’s people who would describe the lack of vigor, strength, the true sense of God’s presence having “gone out” of His house. “Where has the life and power of God gone?” And “What can we do to get it back?” These are not your casual Christians, but honest and hungry hearts who love God. The truth is that there are many “issues” that keep His Bride from being what Jesus ordained His Bride to be in this hour.

But we will stay with the story of the woman with the issue of blood for the moment. When a woman under Old Covenant law was in this condition, she was said to be “unclean” and therefore was isolated and not to be in contact with others. Let us understand that in addition to the isolation, in this condition, she would have been unfruitful, unable to become pregnant. In the Jewish culture ofthat day no woman wanted to be unfruitful or barren. She was considered under a curse if she could not have children. Hence Rachel’s cry, “Give me children lest I die!” May, I say, by way of spiritual application, that as long as there are “issues of blood”, the Lord Jesus cannot come to His Bride.

The Lord Jesus had John write, “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:‘These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead’ (Revelation 3:1 NIV)”. I fear this is a description of many churches in the land today. They are still carrying on with religious “business as usual”. They may have had a reputation at one time for being a place full of God’s life, but now…they are dead. They have become unfruitful. When the LORD God comes to His house, He always desires not only gifts, but fruitfulness. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8 NIV)

Recall the story of Rachel, in Genesis 35, who sat down and wouldn’t stand to honor her father, Laban, when he came into her tent, under the pretense that she was having her monthly cycle. When in fact, she was hiding “house idols” she had stolen from her father’s house. If you follow her story from there, you will discover that she did not make it to her inheritance. Being a short distance from Ephrath (which in Hebrew means “fruitful”), she died along the way. Jacob knew likewise that if he was going to get back to his inheritance, and walk under God’s covenant blessing and protection that he and his family must “Get rid of the idols”. You can’t move forward in this hour into your inheritance if there are “house idols” among your stuff.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com