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Bride Of Christ
Rob & Lyn Packer
His Bride, the Body of Christ - Identity, Destiny, and Calling
Recently, the Lord began to speak to me from the book of Hosea. Historically, this was a time when Israel, God's chosen bride, had lost her way, forgotten who she was, and got caught up with other distractions, other priorities and other loves. But God was not going to be put off. He was calling His bride into her true identity and her true destiny in the earth.
We are in a very similar place in the Body of Christ today. Globally, there is a growing sense of disillusionment with "going through the motions" of religious activity and a cry in our hearts of, "There's got to be more than this!" There is an increasing hunger to experience the miraculous, have supernatural encounters, and receive greater degrees of revelation - to know who God really is and to know who we really are.
God is drawing us powerfully and persistently into the fullness of relationship with Him and into the fullness of our destiny. He's calling us past the distractions, the other priorities and the other loves. The cry of His heart and the encouragement of the "great cloud of witnesses" to us is: "Keep on going! There's still more. It doesn't matter where you are in your walk with Me, there's lots more I want to show you." Let's look at some key strategies that God spoke of in Hosea to bring His bride into the fullness of her identity and destiny.
1. "Therefore...I Will Allure Her..."
The power of "alluring" lies in us being offered something that is far better than what we have right now. We won't be allured, however, unless we see that there is much more available to us and that it's infinitely better than what we are experiencing right now. If you are satisfied with where you're at and what you've got in your relationship with God, you aren't being allured. We should definitely be grateful for what God has given us, but there should be a continual reaching out for more.
"Blessed are those...who have set their hearts on pilgrimage" (Psalm 84:5). In other words, blessed are those who have settled in their hearts that they will keep going in their journey with God. Blessed are those that, while enjoying and appreciating what He is showing them and doing in their lives, know that He is drawing them into "much more." What are you experiencing in your walk with God right now? Thank Him for it, but don't settle there - there are greater realms that He's wanting you to explore.
2. "...Bring Her Into The Wilderness..."
When I read this I asked the Lord, "Why on earth would You want to bring us into the wilderness?" When we think of the wilderness what do we normally think of? We normally think, "Hard, dry, barren, unproductive...yuck!" The Lord said to me, "The wilderness that I want to bring you into is not any of those things...It is the place of unclutteredness."
There is a realm of glory and of His presence that the Lord wants us to carry; it flows out of relationship with Him. Most of us lead very busy lives and we are busy serving the Lord, but what He is bringing us into is going to require some adjustments in our lifestyle.
What is the Place of Unclutteredness?
A room that is cluttered has many things in it that are not in their right place. As a result, those things often slow down people's progress or trip them up when they enter the room. Sometimes those things have fulfilled their proper purpose but they are no longer needed - they just haven't been removed yet.
It is fair to say that "unclutteredness" will mean different things to different people. It is not appropriate for me to tell you what represents "clutter" in your life, but the Lord wants to reveal that to each of us. Let's ask Him to show us.
A Place of Unclutteredness is a Place Where things that are not needed have been removed.
• Are there things that we are doing that were right for another season but are no longer needed in this current season?
• Are there things that we are doing to serve God that He has not asked us to do?
• Are there things that we are doing that "drain our energy" and the grace to do them has lifted?
• Are there attitudes and mindsets that are continually tripping us up and impeding our forward progress in our walk with God?
• Are there areas of sin that need to be dealt with and put away?
• Are there things that we turn to for nurture or comfort instead of turning to the Lord?
• Are there relationships that need to be let go because of their negative influence in our lives?
• Are there time-wasting activities that are robbing us of quality time with the Lord that we need to let go of?
Things that really matter have been repositioned.
• When the clutter is removed, there is a much clearer perspective of the things that "really matter."
• Unhurried time to spend in His presence becomes available.
• Out of the place of stillness and relationship comes a fresh sense of the things that He wants us to be involved in.
The place of unclutteredness is not a place of inactivity; God is not calling us to do nothing. He is calling us to a place of rest, security and relationship, and we can live and serve Him out of that place.
3. "...And Speak Kindly To Her."
Sometimes we can feel that if we just get alone with the Lord and we let Him speak to our heart, He will start showing us all the things "that are wrong with us" and He wants to correct. Having this perspective of God, we push Him away, making us want to be continually busy so we won't have to listen to Him tell us we don't measure up. Is there anything "alluring" about that? No way!
The Lord wants to get rid of the clutter so that we can actually hear Him tell us how much He loves us and how special we are to Him! How proud He is of us as we take each step of our journey with Him; how excited He is about the things that He has in store for us - the things He's wanting to show us and help us experience with Him!
There will be things He will point out along the way, but they are way down the list of His priorities. His top priority is to love us and to speak kindly to us, to encourage us, and let us be shaped by His love.
4. "Then I Will Give Her Her Vineyards From There..."
What do vineyards speak of? They represent fruitfulness, productivity, new wine. Many times we can think that fruitfulness and productivity come from us deciding how we're going to serve God and striving with all our heart and mind to achieve great things for Him - with lots of frenetic activity thrown in for good measure.
Who would have thought that the real fruitfulness and productivity that we long for would come from the wilderness?
God is saying in this verse that He will give us the fruitfulness; it won't be of our own doing. If we follow Him, He is going to be the only explanation for what happens in our life. We won't be able to take the credit for it. We will find that incredible fruitfulness in the place of unclutteredness!
Extreme Prophetic Ministries with Patricia King
Scriptures to meditate on and be encouraged by:
"I will allure her..." (Isaiah 55:2-3; Jeremiah 31:3, 33:3; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10; Ephesians 1:18-23).
"Bring her into the wilderness..." (Jeremiah 24:7; Song of Solomon 1:4; Jeremiah 2:2-5; Matthew 22:37; John 17:24; Revelation 3:18-22).
"And speak kindly to her..." (Isaiah 40:1-5; Zephaniah 3:14-17; Romans 8:31-39).
"I will give her her vineyards from there..." (John 15:5-9; Galatians 5:22-25).
About Rob and Lyn Packer: Rob and Lyn are itinerant ministers with Extreme Prophetic with Patricia King in New Zealand, and minister throughout the South Pacific and Asia. They are accredited pastors and have pastored in New Zealand in a variety of situations for over 30 years. They are passionate lovers of Christ who have given all to follow the call of Christ on their lives. They carry a catalytic revelatory anointing that brings breakthroughs and shifts to both individual lives and churches as they minister. They are a part of the Prophetic Round Table in New Zealand and are widely respected as prophetic ministers for their ability to hear and declare what God is doing in the nation.
The Bride of Christ is a metaphor for the Ecclesia (church), likening the relationship between Christians and Jesus to a betrothal pointing to a future wedding, when Christians are re-united with Jesus in heaven. John the Baptist talks in the Gospel of John chapter 3 verse 29 in terms of himself as a "best man" with the implication that Christ the bridegroom (see also Matthew 9:15) is coming to meet his bride, but there is nothing specific to identify the bride. It could be Israel or it could be looking forward to the Church, but Church Fathers such as Cyprian applied the image to the Church.
The image originates from the Old Testament prophets, who described Israel as God's bride or wife, for example in Isaiah 54:5. In the New Testament, Saint Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 2 speaks of presenting the church (at Corinth) as a pure virgin to Christ as husband. In the Revelation to St John chapter 21 has been taken to reflect the relationship between Christ and his church. However, in Revelation 21 the bride is explicitly the New Jerusalem after the final judgment rather than the earthly church, and in its context is more likely a simple contrast between the New Jerusalem and the Whore of Babylon (a symbol for the Roman Empire).
Saint Paul used similar imagery elsewhere in his epistles. In his epistle to the Church at Ephesus Paul exhorts the men to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. After further exhortation on marriage Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, for a man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife to become one flesh with her. Paul calls this a mystery because marriage between a man and a women is a prophetic act of the depth of our relationship with Jesus. This love surpasses our knowledge (Ephesians 3:18).