Monday, December 8, 2014

"The Not-So-Secret Keys To Unity" Ben Peters, Sacramento, CA

That Elusive Psalm 133 Blessing

Most Christians are familiar with the blessing commanded for those brethren who dwell together in unity (see Psalm 133:1-3). Most Christians also know that achieving that status is an elusive accomplishment. Yes, it's easy to seem in unity with people we hardly know in a big congregation during a Sunday service, but the Psalm clearly says the blessing is for those who"dwell together in unity."

The Hebrew word translated "dwell" is "yawshab." It comes from a primitive root meaning "to sit." It can also be translated "remain, settle, or marry." Clearly, this is talking about being in very close relationship with others, even to the extent of being married to someone.

The word for blessing, "berawkaw," is a derivative of the word meaning "benediction." The meaning, by implication, is "prosperity." Thus, there is a special blessing, which includes prosperity, promised to those who can truly "yawshab" together in unity.

A Promise From Above

Before I share the revelation of the "not-so-secret key" to that unity, I want to prophesy the promise of the Lord for His people. I believe God is saying:

"I know your weaknesses and your continuous struggles to overcome your natural responses to the frequent attacks of the enemy, who often uses people you love to wound your heart. I am moving Heaven and earth to bring you into a place of inner strength and authority over your own flesh and over every fiery dart of the enemy. I will empower you to live in harmony with your brethren like you have never experienced before.

"You will see My blessing empower you, prosper you, and protect you in these days of strife and turmoil in the world. The Holy Spirit will produce His fruit in you, and you will demonstrate what happens when you truly abide in the Vine. Rejoice in every trial, for I will teach you how to turn every trial into triumph. Expect blessings to fall from Heaven when you trust Me in the storm."

The True Source of Unity: What is That Not-so-Secret Key?

After teaching and preaching for some time on the importance of unity, God showed me that He had already revealed the source of unity in the very prayer of Jesus, in which He prayed five times that His disciples would be "one as He and His Father are one." How had I missed it when I had taught from the passage many times and had read it many more times? This is important, because it's one thing to preach and say, "We need to be in unity." It's another thing to tell people how that is possible in this world of strife and discord. I thank God for showing me at least some of the keys for His people to actually dwell together in unity.

One of the most important keys to unity is found in John 17:22-23: "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."

So, what is that not-so-secret key?

It is the glory that God gave Jesus, and Jesus in turn gave to us. Yes, it's the same glory God gave Him.

Is that not an amazing statement? But what does it really mean for you and me? What does this word "glory" mean?

The Greek word, "doxa," indicates great dignity and honor, even to the level of worship. By its usage, it also means brightness, as in Jesus' transfiguration; beauty, as in the flower, compared to Solomon's glory; great power and wealth, as when satan offered Jesus the glory of the nations; and great majesty, as when Jesus returns in power and glory.

If Jesus truly gave His disciples the same honor, brightness, beauty, power, and wealth that the Father had given Him, that is a mind-blowing statement. But how does that cause them to be in unity or one, as Jesus declared: "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one as We are one"?

The Key To Understanding How His Glory Makes Us One

I love it when God gives me the right question to ask so He can give me the right answer. I heard the question in my mind: "How does NOT having His glory cause us to be "not one" or divided?" Then God showed me the reason.

God created Adam and Eve in His own image. That means if God is clothed in glory, than they were also clothed in glory. That glory was visible, as was Jesus' glory on the mountain of transfiguration. This was their "normal" garment, and they didn't know they were naked, becauseof this glorious covering.

But when sin entered the Garden of Eden, that part of God's image was lost and Adam and Eve felt very exposed and naked. Ever since that moment, men and women have been looking for ways to cover themselves. Fig leaves have been replaced by many other means of covering up their loss.

Man's focus on clothing, style, and fashion is a clear evidence of this truth. But, in addition to making our clothing as "glorious" as possible, we also like to be seen in a favorable light, or perhaps the "spotlight." As Jesus told us in Matthew 6:2, when the hypocrites give their alms, they make a big show of it, because they "seek the glory of men." On another occasion He declared, "He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory" (John 7:18).

Seeking our own glory is the natural response to having lost THE glory that God gave to man. We all feel naked and we look for any kind of glory we can find to take away the shame of our nakedness.

But it seems there is never enough glory to go around. As a result, we often witness jealousy, strife, contention, gossip, back-stabbing, and the like – not just in the world, but, yes, in the church. This is clearly the reason that we so quickly lose the unity of the Spirit that we were commanded by Paul to guard in Ephesians 4:3.

We can't be in unity with someone who is our competition and making us feel insecure. We can't be in unity with someone who got the position that we feel we deserve. We can't be in unity when we know someone is gossiping about us and we feel bitterness or resentment toward them. How then can we experience that great blessing of unity, when everyone is struggling to cover their nakedness and competing for the little bit of glory available to us in the church or ministry we are part of?

We don't need to go after man's glory. Jesus has given us the same glory that "the Father gave Him."

So, if Jesus gave us that same incredible glory, we need to know how to access it in such a way that it makes a practical difference in how we see ourselves and each other in the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth. Let's discover how to more fully embrace this truth in tangible ways, so we can truly "dwell together in unity."

Practical Ways To Access the Glory Given Us

1. Be a true disciple.

Jesus gave His glory to His disciples. I don't believe we can expect to access His glory if we're not willing to be His disciple. As we discuss below, there are great blessings for those who are true and faithful disciples, but it is not an easy position to fill. I believe there are three basic functions of disciples:

A. Disciples were followers – forsaking everything and everyone to follow Him.
B. Disciples were students – they sat at His feet and listened to Him teach them.
C. Disciples were servants – they did whatever He asked them to do. They fed the multitudes, went on outreaches, etc., all at His bidding.

Without Jesus here in His physical presence, discipleship looks a little different. But we can still follow Him wherever He leads us. We can still sit at His feet with the Bible and the Holy Spirit, who is our Teacher, as well as listen to those He has anointed to represent Him. And we can still serve His Body on the earth and feed the hungry and go on outreaches at His bidding.

2. Climb your own Mountain of the Lord.

Jesus and Moses both accessed God's glory on mountains. Jesus was seen in His glory on the mountain of transfiguration. Not only that, Jesus often went up on the mountain by Himself to commune with His Father. Moses also frequently communed with God on a mountain, until he pleaded for God to show him His glory there. He not only saw His glory, but came down the mountain still wearing it.

So, what do you do if you live in the plains with no mountains to climb? While climbing a physical mountain may have some natural as well as spiritual benefit, we're not talking about natural mountains. Rather, we need time on our own personal "Mountain of the Lord."

Mountain climbers take time to leave the comforts and busyness of the valleys where they live to go to a place where they can see things from a different perspective, and where the noise and clamor of the world are left behind, so they can more clearly hear the still small whisper of the wind. It's true that the big mountains are usually climbed with teams, and we can have some of our greatest experiences in the glory as part of a team, but we're mostly talking about just getting away from life's distractions on what most of us would just call a hill, like Jesus and Moses did.There was a little climbing to do, but it wasn't a major expedition, just a place to get alone with God.

My first personal mountain was actually a little piano practice room at Bible College, where I met with God morning after morning in a life-changing season of my life. My wife's first personal mountain was on a small hill at a kids' camp near San Diego, California, under the shadow of a Passion play cross. She learned to soak in God's glory there, desperate to know that God would go with her when she was sent out to prophesy to needy people.

Thus, if you want to access God's glory, you should make a little extra effort to get alone with Him, like every hero of the faith has done. It doesn't have to be a 40-day fast, or a radical demonstration of determination to encounter God. Just find a place to be quiet and alone with God as often as you can, and ask God to show you His glory, like Moses did.

Tell God that you want His glory so you can experience the unity that Jesus prayed for before He went to the Cross. Tell Him you're tired of fighting over the scraps of man's glory and want only the glory that Jesus gave His disciples. Tell Him you are willing to do whatever He asks you to do and that you want to learn everything He has to teach you. Tell Him you are willing to forsake everything and everyone and that you are willing to take up your cross and follow Him wherever He leads you.

Disciples were asked to pay a big price, so why were there so many applicants for this job? It was because the reward of discipleship was so worth the price. As a graduating disciple, they would become known as the one who sat at the feet of the Master. Remember, Paul said that he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, a very high ranking Pharisee (see Acts 22:3, 5:34). This gave Paul tremendous favor and opened doors for him. Paul was just a young man, but had great favor and authority with the religious leaders of his day. He had paid the price of discipleship and now carried the mantle of his master.

Even so, when we are true disciples of Jesus, people take notice. Like the religious leaders in Jerusalem, they will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. You too can access the glory of the Master, by being with Him and learning to think His thoughts and feel His emotions and passions.

3. Pursue Humility and Love as hidden treasure.

Humility is also an elusive commodity, which is the main reason unity is so elusive. Humility and love are the key ingredients of unity. While these qualities increase as we spend time in God's presence, I believe we can accelerate the process of developing humility and love by accepting the challenges of everyday life to learn to humble ourselves and to learn to love, even when we don't feel like it.

God asked me to be very vulnerable and write a book on humility not long ago. He allowed me to title it, "Humility, and How I Almost Achieved It." In doing the research for this book, I discovered more than ever that there are incredible promises to those who learn to humble themselves before the Lord and others. I was also made aware of the wickedness of pride and how it manifests in so many different ways. This is so important to understand, because God promises to resist the proud, and give grace to the humble (see James 4:6).

The sad thing is: Pride comes naturally, but humility takes effort. However, if we look for opportunities, God will provide them in abundance. These opportunities come with a promise from God: "If you pass this test, I'm going to reward you with an extra special dose of My grace, and you are going to like what that looks like."

In the same way, love doesn't usually come naturally, especially for our enemies. But we canchoose to love and let the feelings follow. In doing this, we open God's windows of blessing over us and we can discover the blessings spoken of in Psalm 133.

A Vision of the Mountain of the Lord

In a prayer time with several apostolic leaders a few years ago, God gave me a vision of His Holy Mountain – The Mountain of the Lord. People were coming from every direction to climb this mountain to be with God. They came from every ethnic and denominational background, and they came in groups with their own people. Even though the people were from different backgrounds, they all had the same goal – to ascend into the presence of the Lord, and to behold His glory and beauty.

As they reached the base of the mountain, they began to make a trail going around the mountain in a steady, but gradual climb. The base of the mountain had a huge circumference, so there was plenty of room for each group to stay by themselves. However, the higher up they got on the mountain, the smaller the circumference was. Soon pathways had to merge.

The merging quickly turned into rejoicing as two groups became one, discovering that they had the same heart and passion. They had been previously told that the other groups were mistaken and should be avoided, but now they were walking in harmony, excited about their common passion.

The closer the groups got to the top of the mountain, the more they had to merge with others. Excitement and sweet fellowship abounded as the pilgrims got closer and closer to their destination – the top of the mountain and the presence and glory of their Lord and Master – the King of kings and Lord of lords.

At the top of the mountain, I saw a huge circle of worshippers. They were not looking at each other and noting their differences. They were all looking straight ahead at the beauty and majesty of the King. And they were arm in arm, singing in beautiful harmony, overwhelmed with the glory of God's presence.

Prophetic Application:

God is truly speaking to my spirit that He is drawing us up that mountain, and our focus is changing from a heavy concentration on doctrine (of which none of us have it all together) to the ecstasy of being in His presence, in which is fullness of joy. I don't know how He will do it or what it will look like, but I know the prayer of Jesus in John 17 will be answered again, as it was in the early Church.

The Incredible New Testament Example of Psalm 133

Most people aren't aware of this, but Jesus prayed five times in John 17 for His disciples to be "one." Then, in the Book of Acts, which is the fifth book of the New Testament, we are told five times in the first five chapters that the apostles and their followers were in one accord. It is made abundantly clear in these five chapters that the brethren were dwelling together in unity. We are told that they lived in a unique community lifestyle, sharing unselfishly and selling personal possessions to help others.

So, if the first five chapters of Acts are an example of brethren dwelling together in unity, what blessing did the Lord command for them? That's a great question, and it deserves an honest answer. Here it is:

The blessing of unity was the ability to access God's glory, which included the fruit and power of the Holy Spirit of God. While this unity lasted, we read that a certain man, lame from his mother's womb, was instantly healed. Then we read that five thousand men were added to the Church, as Peter spoke spontaneously to the crowd that gathered, when they saw the former cripple walking, leaping, and praising God. That is followed by reports of powerful miracles and thousands more souls saved.

In chapter five we read about the first sin of lying to the Holy Spirit being punished by instant death; and that is followed by the healing and deliverance ministry of Peter and his shadow or, as I believe, the radiance of the glory of Jesus that he carried. On the streets of Jerusalem, multitudes of sick and demonized were lined up, and we are told that "they were all healed" (Acts 5:16). Before the chapter is over, the apostles are put in prison by furious religious leaders, but are let out by an angel of the Lord and told to go back to the temple to preach the Good News of Jesus again.

Oh yes, by the way, while all this is going on, the financial blessings are rolling in and laid at the apostles' feet. Nobody knows how much money came in from the sale of real estate, and other possessions, but it must have been significant. Remember, the blessings that the Lord commanded included prosperity.

The Best Is Yet To Come

Thus, we see that God has given us conclusive proof that Psalm 133 is true. And I believe with all my heart that Jesus plans to restore all things (see Acts 3:21). The first thing lost and the last thing to be restored is the unity of His disciples. But Jesus is setting things in order, and there will be a great convergence of natural events and supernatural occurrences that will cause us to draw near to God as we have never done since the early Church. The result will be unprecedented unity, releasing a glorious explosion of miracles and the greatest harvest the world has ever seen. It will actually dwarf the Book of Acts, and will be used to present to Jesus His most glorious Bride.

His Bride will access the glory of her awesome Bridegroom, and together they will rule and reign for a thousand years and then continue on their loving relationship for all eternity. I believe it is now our awesome privilege and responsibility to pray and intercede for this unity to manifest, and we can begin to work on unity in our own hearts (see Psalm 86:11), our marriages, our homes, our churches, and communities.

Unity is still on the heart of Jesus, and He will bring it to pass again. Not everyone will join in. There will be religious spirits that fight it, like they did against the early Church. However, the true Bride of Christ will focus on loving Him and all of His kids, and the joy and love and power will be such as we've never seen before.

Ben R. Peters
Kingdom Sending Center

Email: ohmint@gmail.com
Website: kingdomsendingcenter.org

Ben and Brenda Peters have said, "YES" to the call of God to challenge, equip and send dedicated lovers of Jesus into the harvest fields of the earth, including the seven mountains of society. Together they have ministered to tens of thousands of individuals in several countries of the world. After establishing churches and Christian schools for almost thirty years, they began a traveling ministry in 1999, under the name, Open Heart Ministries, speaking, teaching and prophesying in conferences, camps, churches, ministry schools (including Wagner Leadership Institute) and homes. More recently, they also founded an Illinois-based ministry, called, Kingdom Sending Center, after hearing from God during a Heidi Baker meeting in Chicago. Ben began writing revelatory books in 2000, and has published 22 of them since then, and his newest book is HOLY HOW? Holiness, the Sabbath, Communion and Baptism. Ben and Brenda have five children and 12 grandchildren.

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