Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Show Up!"

(Thanks to my dear brother and friend Jay for inspiration on this one.)

I have often referenced in these devotionals that if born again believers could audibly hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, "Get up!" would be a frequent mandate we would hear. God's redemption is such that sin and failure should never keep us down because the gracious mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ is such a powerful restorative, and His Spirit works mightily to encourage and strengthen us as we trust the Word of God in times of discouragement and/or sin.

I also think of another two-word mandate we might hear. "Show up!" I think of this mainly in reference to the ministries God gives us for the purpose of honoring the Lord Jesus, and blessing other people with His love. It has been said that our greatest ability is availability. When we take our callings seriously enough to consistently be where God has placed us, He leads and enables us to fulfill our privileged responsibilities. "Ministries," by the way, involve far more than preaching, teaching, or other roles traditionally defined as spiritual. Anything we do that involves participation with people and service to them should be viewed by the believer as God's calling upon our lives. "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31). The Apostle Paul also wrote that "unto the pure, all things are pure" (Titus 1:15). The purity that Paul references is the determination that our complex lives are ultimately defined by one fundamental reason for existence: the glory of the Lord Jesus. When we show up with a trusting, submitted heart devoted to the Apostle's "this one thing I do," our availability becomes the vehicle for God's ability revealed in us (Philippians 2:13).

We are called to show up. May our days begin with the grateful acknowledgment that we belong to the Lord Jesus. We are His ambassadors, and our callings provide opportunity to represent Him in both attitude, deed, word, and loving self sacrifice. His Spirit dwells within our trusting hearts, and as we consistently arrive at the venues of ministry to which God appoints us, we shall find guidance and enabling far more than equal to the task.

"I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
(Isaiah 6:8)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Immediately! And... Never Too Late!"

(Thanks, Bill, for the example and inspiration)

A good friend and brother in Christ shared a story with me last week that greatly blessed and challenged my heart.

Bill had been searching for a document for several years. The need recently became immediate, but he again searched to no avail. Finally, he committed the matter to the Lord, trusting His will to be done.

You know what happened next. Bill found the document in a place he didn't expect. More importantly, he reacted in the perfect manner. "Glen, I immediately thanked God!" Bill wasn't bragging in the least, but just joyfully stating what happened. Again, the testimony blessed me immeasurably, and caused me to desire the same response in my own life when our Heavenly Father faithfully reveals His provision and answers.

"Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name" (Psalm 100:4).

I am convinced that if some watcher from without could witness the relationship between God and man, he would be convinced of two truths. First, the watcher would be amazed by God. "What a being that One is! He gives and gives and gives again to humanity in such free and gracious generosity!" Of humanity, however, the watcher would shake his head in bewilderment. "How ungrateful is this human race! How little do they thank the One who gives to them life and breath and all things, and whose very Son died for them! Why, even those who trust Him seem to so often forget to express gratitude to the Father who gives to them every good gift and every perfect gift!"

Thanksgiving is infectious. A grateful heart of gratitude spills over to others, reminding, encouraging, and challenging us to join Bill in immediate thanksgiving. Or, if we think of things in our past for which we cannot recall saying "Thank You" to the great and good Giver of all things, it is never too late. Indeed, you may recall that I recently shared with you that the last few months have been for me a journey to the past for the purpose of offering thanksgivings omitted at the time of the gift. It has been a blessed adventure that has literally taken me back as far back as my childhood in order to thank God for specific kindnesses given both before and after I came to know Him.

As A.W Tozer once wrote, "Thanksgiving is the sweetener of the soul." As Bill said, "I thanked God immediately!" And as the slow of mind such as myself must often practice, it is never too late to say to our Heavenly Father, "Thank You." We close with the hymnwriter's sublime reminder of God's immeasurably generous heart: "Out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again!"

"It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
(Luke 12:32)

"A Very Present Help"

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof" (Psalm 46:1-3).

The earth, the mountains, and the waters of our lives will be removed, they will be carried into the midst of the sea, they will roar and and be troubled, and they will shake with the swelling thereof.

"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

Understanding and awareness of this reality should press us into seeking greater knowledge of God as "our refuge and strength." In times of relative quiet and rest, however, we are strongly tempted to ignore the fact of our need for living and vibrant relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks for such times of blessing, and rightfully so. There is a spiritual danger in them nevertheless, and we do well to remind, encourage, and challenge each other often that in a world such as the one in which we live, trouble is sure.

Far more sure, however, is our Lord's "very present help." For the born again believer in the Lord Jesus, the greatest reality of troubled times is the loving and comforting presence of God. I love David's "very" in the promise he affirms. Our Lord is always with us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. But He is "very" with us in times of challenge. Certainly we may not feel it, or see it in a manifested way to our senses and reason. Nevertheless, God's comforting presence of love pervades the troubled earth, mountains, and waters of our lives. If we will believe, both before the trouble comes, and when it is upon us, we will discover that the Lord Jesus is indeed our refuge and strength.

The hard but redeeming truth of the matter is this: regardless of the nature or measure of the trial, we experience God's comfort to the degree we trust Him and submit ourselves to His glory and will. The balm is there. It is "very present." The Holy Spirit bears witness, the Word of God promises, and fellow believers will often be sent to provide a confirming word to the reality. Will we believe, and will the glory and will of God be our primary focus? "According to your faith be it unto you" declared the Lord Jesus to blind men whose eyes were opened because they trusted His Word (Matthew 9:29-30). The same will be true in our lives as God's assuring and reassuring presence awaits our trusting determination to believe that He is willing and able to be whatever we need Him to be "though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof."

"I will trust in Thee."
(Psalm 55:23)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"The Still and the Small"

The Lord Jesus Christ trampled sin, hell, and the grave under His nail-scarred feet as He exited the tomb in triumph.

"Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:15).

The "openly" of which Paul writes speaks primarily to a heavenly display of Christ's victory, at least to this point in God's purposes. Conversely, upon the earth and in our lives, the glory is often difficult to perceive with our natural senses. As in His earthly life, our Lord's dynamic working quite often manifests quietly and with little open display. "We walk by faith, not by sight" declared the Apostle, and we will miss the dynamic involvement of God in our lives if we are not expecting and looking for it (II Corinthians 5:7). Our Lord's character and nature sometimes mandate the parting of a Red Sea, the moving of mountains, and stopping the sun in its tracks. Most often, however, our Heavenly Father unobtrusively works in the shadows and hidden byways where His sons and daughters experience the risen Christ in the still and the small rather than the wind, the fire, and the earthquake (I Kings 19:11-12).

God is far more concerned with our knowing the character of His heart than the power of His hand. The latter is not excluded, of course, and we rejoice when the "openly" of Heaven becomes apparent upon the earth. Relationship with the Lord Jesus, however, is a personal matter. Mere knowledge of His doings, even if spectacular, can never illuminate for us His wondrous Person. The shadows and the byways best serve this purpose, and thus we can expect that the risen Christ will presently be known in ways that require us to see that which cannot be seen. The light of God's heart shines most brightly when we must view it shining in darkness, and when the tears that cloud our eyes to earthly joys become the clarifying lenses whereby we see greater heavenly glories. It is not an easy way. But it is God's way, and it is our way if we have believed in the risen and living Lord Jesus.

"The light shineth in darkness."
(John 1:5)
"Moses endured, as seeing Him who is invisible."
(Hebrews 11:27)

Monday, October 25, 2010

"By Our Own Hand"

We've all likely seen it. If so, we've also likely been mortified by it.

Driving by a young man who walked along a sidewalk yesterday, it became painfully apparent that the back of his pants drooped below his entire posterior region. After passing the young man, the view in my rear view mirror revealed his struggle to hold up the front of his trousers, at least to the degree he could keep them from falling to his ankles while attempting to walk.

My first reaction was the thought of how anyone could be so ill-advised as to attempt navigation while intentionally allowing his attire to create such a hindrance. Then the thought occurred to me. The young man is a pawn not only of his own poor judgment, but of someone else's evil.

"No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it" (Ephesians 5:29).

The Apostle Paul implies that human beings are not intentionally self-destructive. Our flesh is far too focused on personal satisfaction than to purposefully do harm to itself. Therefore, other entities are always at work when we act in a manner hurtful to ourselves.

"Be sober. Be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8).

Satan and his minions originate self destructive attitudes, words, and behaviors by tempting us to think and believe things that are not true. Certainly they use tangible and earthly realities as the vehicle for their delusion, but the source of humanity's ongoing participation in harming ourselves by our own hand does not originate with ourselves. Tragically, devilish lies and deceptions are spiritually devouring the young man with drooping pants. He bears personal responsibility, of course, because unless we "give place to the devil," he cannot have place in us (Ephesians 4:7). Nevertheless, the young man's behavior clearly indicates the destructive influence of the "roaring lion." Let us pray for him.

We also do well to pray for others and for ourselves concerning this vital matter. We all likely bear within our minds deceptive influences of our enemies' darkness. Who among us does not wonder why we think, feel, say, or do things we know will jeopardize our well being? Again, we bear full responsibility for our sins, and no one can absolve themselves by mourning that "the devil made me do it." Nevertheless, we must be sober and vigilant concerning the truth that we live among spiritual entities who seek to harm us by our own hand.

There is a roaring lion. He seeks to devour. His weapons are lies, lies that lead to self destruction in countless ways. Drooping pants, bitter attitudes, sinful habits, dependence on chemicals, haughty self confidence that leads to self delusion, discouragement, doctrinal deception, questioning of God's way and will - all are in some manner the product of our spiritual enemies' continual attempt to cloud and enshroud us in darkness. Failure to understand this truth gives opportunity to the devil as he seeks to do harm to us by our own hand. May our Lord have mercy on us, and awaken us to the truth that "there are many adversaries" (I Corinthians 16:9). Only thereby will we decisively arise by faith to access the finished work of the risen Lord Jesus Christ and overcome the doomed work of devils whose lies will ultimately lead to their own destruction.

"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Anticipated Lives" Part 3

Finally, we consider God's perfect foreknowledge of our lives concerning the difficulties, heartaches, and heartbreaks He allows and/or determines.

Nothing happens in the universe that is not either the determinate or permissive will of our Lord. "He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). Of course, this does not mean that God is responsible for sin and evil. No blacker darkness of heart and mind exists than to suggest that He causes sin in any manner.

"Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Habakkuk 1:13).
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man" (James 1:13).

In this context, those painful and difficult things that happen to us as the result of others' sins were not directly determined by God. They were allowed, however, and He perfectly fits them into His purpose in our lives. Furthermore, our Lord Himself leads us down certain paths of hardship for a variety of purposes, according to His loving wisdom. "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). We must therefore accept the truth that our Lord is always in some manner involved in the challenges of life. And, in terms of our present consideration, He always knows ahead of time the trouble that's coming.

Born again believers in the Lord Jesus have entrusted both time and eternity to One who perfectly anticipates the "trouble that's coming." Our Lord is therefore prepared to be whatever we will ever need Him to be in every challenge we will ever face. As the Psalmist declared, God is "a very present help in trouble" because He is present in the trouble by the time we get to it. No dilemma is beyond His wisdom. No lack is beyond His supply. No loss is beyond His redemption. And no heartache or even heartache is beyond His comfort. Certainly He works according to His wisdom rather than our own, and we must accept His provisions in whatever manner and timing He sees fit. Nevertheless, we can trust that the Heavenly Father who knows our past, present, and future as if they were but one moment is ready to be whatever we will need Him to be.

Recently I found myself pondering a particular difficulty we faced. I was tempted to worry, but then the truth we presently consider presented itself to my mind. From eternity past, God had seen and foreseen the challenge I considered, and He has promised to be the supply to every need. Great peace filled my heart, and of course, the faithfulness of our Lord proved more than adequate to meet and overcome the challenge. Perfect foreknowledge, perfect wisdom, perfect ability, and perfect willingness unite in the heart of the Lord Jesus, enabling Him to always be ready to fulfill the assurance declared by the Apostle Paul...

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
(Ephesians 3:20-21)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Anticipated Lives" Part 2

One fascinating aspect of God's perfect foreknowledge is that He remains interested in us despite the fact that the past, present, and future are completely open books to His infinite understanding. Our Lord knows what we are going to pray before ever we pray it. He anticipates our doings and everything that will ever happen in our lives. Nevertheless, He is lovingly interested in us to the degree that our prayers are His delight, and He is intimately involved in every aspect of our existence (Proverbs 15:8; Ephesians 1:11).

This is completely foreign to our human experience. You would not be reading if you already knew what I had written. There would be no interest in it. Our relationships with other people require mystery, uncertainty, and anticipation of the unknown in order to hold our attention. We communicate in order to unveil the hidden thoughts, emotions, and sensibilities of our inner being to those who cannot know us unless we come forth to reveal ourselves. Human discourse as we know it would be cancelled due to lack of interest if suddenly our hearts and minds became completely transparent to each other.

God perfectly anticipates our lives, but nevertheless enthusiastically involves Himself in them. His foreknowledge does not preclude the joy He finds in relating to His trusting children in Christ. "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4). Few truths about our Lord are more mysterious and intriguing, revealing the difference between His sensibilities and our own. We fall to our faces in awe upon the realization of His anticipation. However, we arise to discover that "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous" because He is so lovingly interested in who and what we are (Psalm 34:15). Wonder and joy are the proper responses to such truth, along with the determination to become far more lovingly interested in who and what He is.

"Thou, God, seest me."
(Genesis 16:13)
"I have loved thee with an everlasting love."
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Anticipated Lives"

What goes through the mind of a being with perfect foreknowledge as He plans according to an "eternal purpose?" (Ephesians 3:11).

"His understanding is infinite... Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of creation" (Psalm 147:5; Acts 15:18).

We cannot know the answer to such a question because we have no frame of reference for how our Creator thinks. The plans of humanity are all made from uncertainty about the future, and from ignorance of what will happen in the next moment. We may think ourselves somewhat sure of things to come, and of our plans. However, deep within our minds, we know that no real certainty exists concerning tomorrow. Conversely, God plans with perfect certainty and assurance concerning every outcome. No exigency or contingency surprises Him, He never has an unexpected moment, and nothing ever catches Him off guard. As David confessed, such things "are too high for me" (Psalm 131:1).

Little more can be said of the Divine reality of omniscience because, again, we have no frame of reference for such a sensibility. We simply cannot think in these terms, and attempts to analyze God's mode and measure of thought quickly crash upon the rocks of our ignorance. Therefore, rather than seeking understanding of God's understanding, we do better to take great assurance from the fact of His infinite knowledge. We live anticipated lives. God has perfectly foreseen every moment of our eternal existence, and is perfectly prepared for every exigency or contingency. The one to whom we have entrusted both time and eternity is ready for the happenings of both realms, and every destination to which we will ever arrive finds Him awaiting us with the provision of the Lord Jesus Christ. "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

Few truths more confirm the reality that God is God, and we are not. Little wonder that Solomon commanded believers to "lean not upon thine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). We lean rather upon the Understanding we cannot understand. We can trust it, however, and we can rejoice that the God who promises to be everything we will ever need is perfectly prepared to do so. All things in our lives are perfectly anticipated because the future that is dark to us shines brightly to the Eyes that span the past, the present, and the future with perfect and infinite clarity.

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counselor?"
(Romans 11:33-34)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Peace In the Heart"

    There is a green rainbow that encircles the Throne of Heaven - "There was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald" (Revelation 4:3).  The hue perhaps typifies God's redeeming work on the earth, as after the flood when dry land once again appeared and foliage and fauna sprouted anew from death.  The bow speaks of Heaven's desire for peace with human hearts, and of judgment past for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ - " it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember my covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh" (Genesis 9:14-15).
    Humanity longs for peace in the heart.  Divinity longs even more for humanity's reception and experience of peace in the heart.  A way has been made, at the highest cost possible to God, for tranquility to be given to us as a free gift, the freest gift ever given.  "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).  The ongoing apprehension of such a gift is also by faith.  "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in the hope of glory" (Romans 5:2).  Therefore, problems with peace are always related to problems with faith.  If we are not experiencing peace in the heart, we can be sure that unbelief is, in some manner, the root issue.
     The atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ is far more effectual than we realize.  Born again believers are justified to the degree that God "will not impute sin" to us (Romans 4:8).  Certainly this does not mean that our wayward attitudes, words, and actions are inconsequential, or that God will not deal firmly with us as a loving Father when necessary.  It rather declares to our needy hearts that our relationship with Him is secure, and that in the best times of faithfulness and the worst, the way of redemption and peace remains the same.  "I am the way" declared the Lord Jesus, a blessed assurance echoed the writer of Hebrews who calls us to "have boldness to enter into into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (Hebrews 10:19).  Never are we so faithful that we can come to God by any other way.  And never are we so unfaithful that we cannot come, so long as we make our approach by the Blood-stained path of our Savior.
     We do well to settle it within our understanding: God desires us to be at peace with Him far more than we desire to be at peace with Him.  The serenity of our hearts is a vital issue in our Heavenly Father's heart.  He is "for us," and we shall find far more than a sympathetic willingness to receive us when we come to Him empty-handed, but with hearts full of faith in the finished work of Christ for us.   Indeed, the trusting saint who comes to the Throne gazes upon stains of Blood along the path, as it were, stains that we know were shed for us.  We remember and realize anew that only a Father who loves us beyond imagining would have provided so great a salvation and so great a Savior.  In such holy light, we therefore choose to believe that for whatever reason we make our approach to the Throne of grace, our Father's will is that we come away from it with a heart of peace.  So much was sacrificed to make such a gift possible.  And so much results in and through us for the glory of God when walk in the peace with which He longs to fill our hearts.
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Romans 1:7)

Monday, October 18, 2010


"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24).

There is a necessary reciprocity in all good and genuine relationship. To paraphrase Solomon's wisdom in the verse above, we must be a friend in order to have a friend.

This includes every relationship in the born again believer's life. "How can I glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and how can I be a blessing of His grace and truth to _____ ?" This must be our primary sensibility concerning family relationships, friendships, fellowship with other believers, work associations, involvement with neighbors, and even with those casual contacts we see in everyday life that are actually not casual at all. They are rather consequential because our Heavenly Father ordains the relationships of committed believers for the purpose of revealing the person and work of the Lord Jesus in us and by us. We show not only ourselves friendly by this understanding and devotion to the glory of God, but far more importantly, we show Him friendly to our world. That is, we show His desire for living and involved relationship with all as we acknowledge and submit ourselves to the primary purpose of our connections.

The expression of our devotion to being a friend is our Lord's prerogative. We submit ourselves to Him in the confidence He will lead us in His wisdom, and in the power of Christ to be what people in our sphere of influence need us to be. "I am yours, Lord, for ______." We do well to consciously and decisively affirm this truth regarding every person in our lives. From this basis, we expect our Heavenly Father to illuminate a path of communication, self sacrifice, fellowship, and witness of the fact that our relationships are not merely human in their origin and significance. Every bond in our life is actually a trinity in small wherein God, ourselves, and the other party are meant to walk together for the purpose of revealing the glory of Christ in countless ways, means and expressions.

Of course, we cannot control the other person's response to this truth. They may or may not join us in our devotion, and some may not even be believers. However, we can be sure that we ourselves are seeing our relationships for what they actually are. Thereby our Lord will be honored, and the people of our lives will be blessed by a friendship that expresses itself through us, but begins and is empowered by God Himself.

"O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together."
(Psalm 34:3)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Expect God"

In a Sunday school class of middle school boys I taught many years ago, I placed a poster on the wall on which the words were printed, "Expect God." "What do you think I mean by this?," I asked the boys.

Immediately, one of them responded, "You mean Jesus is coming again!" "That's a great answer," I said, "and you're right. But I'm actually thinking about a different expectation than that." No other answers were forthcoming, so I shared with them the affirmation of the Psalmist, "My soul, wait thou only upon God. For my expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:5).

I shared with the boys that if they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, their lives would be saturated with His presence and working in all things. "You will never live a moment in this life or the next in which your Lord is not the great fact and reality of your heart and experience. You may not always see or understand what He is doing, and you may not always be immediately comfortable with His working in your life. But His glory, your good, and the good of those with whom you live will be the truth of your existence. So, gentlemen, expect God."

Three decades have not changed my confidence in what I shared with those young men. Time has rather exponentially enhanced my confidence that God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). It has also confirmed that seeing and understanding the ways of His working are often greatly challenging. It can be decidedly uncomfortable as we are "always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body" (II Corinthians 4:11). As we determine to expect God, however, that is, as we plant deeply within our hearts that all things in our lives truly are working together for good, we shall not be disappointed. Indeed, our hearts will be full regardless of circumstance, situation, or condition because we are anticipating that the living God will be awaiting us in every venue. He will be who He is in the blessed, the difficult, and the mundane.

The world, the devil, and the flesh will constantly tempt us to expect everything but God. If we respond in such unbelief, our Heavenly Father may allow us to reap the consequences of our carnal anticipation. If, however, we put to death fleshly and devilish expectations, we will harvest the fruit of the Spirit we have planted. We will find our Lord and know Him because we are believing the Bible that directly or implicitly declares on every page that "to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Expect God... "my expectation is from Him." I hope that some or all of those young men from so long ago remember the exhortation. Even more, I hope they have experienced the truth that their lives are completely saturated with the Lord in whom they "live and move and have their being" (Acts 17:28). Expect God.

"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ."
(Philippians 1:21)

"But Then..."

(Thanks to my dear brother and friend Fred C. for inspiration on this one.)

One day we shall see Him "face to face" (I Corinthians 13:12).

The vision will perhaps cause all that the Lord Jesus Christ did for us and was for us during our earthly sojourn to be compressed into a moment of clarity and brightness that will cause us to fall to our faces in a gratitude such as we have never felt before. A holy and glorified "Thank You!" will burst forth from our grateful lips, and we will join the millions upon millions of human and angelic voices that throng the throne of God to express adoration, praise, and gratitude (Revelation 5:11-14).

But then...

But then the realization will descend upon us, or perhaps arise from within our perfected hearts that the compressed moment is merely the beginning of a long eternity wherein the infinite reservoir of God's goodness will be known by us, in us, and through us. The Apostle Paul wrote of "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" being our portion for "the ages to come" (Ephesians 2:7). Such realization blesses us now, but again, in that heavenly moment when we shall know as we are known, our hearts would burst were they not glorified. The "reservoir of God's goodness" will never be exhausted because His person, nature, character, and way are all infinite in their measure and expression.

Our minds and intellectual capacities will be forever stimulated and illuminated because "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).

Our abilities and capacity to fulfill our particular callings will be forever superadequate because "the power that worketh in us" is "exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

Our holy pleasure in being God's sons and daughters will be forever heart-filling and thrilling because "joy unspeakable and full of glory" will fill our cups to the degree that they perpetually "runneth over" (I Peter 1:8; Psalm 23:5).

The tranquility of our redeemed hearts will forever grace us with "peace, which passeth all understanding," bestowing upon us an existence for which we presently have no frame of reference (Philippians 4:7). No sense of worry, trepidation, or fear will ever have any place in our hearts and minds. We shall be internally free in a liberty that cannot yet be contemplated or imagined. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).

And we shall be loved, and love in response, with a devotion of otherness that "passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). The heart of God is an ocean without shore, a view without horizon, an expanse without limit, and depths that can never be fully plumbed. The Lord Jesus prayed that we would know the same love He had known "before the world was," and His request will be perfectly and eternally fulfilled (John 17:5; 24-26). We are presently knowing the firstfruits of such glory. However, in that moment when we see Him face to face, an experience of God's love will begin that will overwhelm our hearts with the awareness that regardless of how far we have journeyed into His heart, the Holy Spirit beckons us to come ever further and ever onward into the goodness of the Lord Jesus.

Forever's Journey

There is no end to the quest we know, forever beckons on.
For our spirits soar in skies so blue, above all clouds of storm.

Yes, we fly into the heart of God as in His Son we trust,
and earth will soon be nothing more than long forgotten dust.

So spread your winds and catch the wind, o journeyman of hope,
and race toward horizons blessed with those who also know

That the quest of hearts is Jesus, He is our shining sun,
it matters not how far we've come...

The Journey's Just Begun.

"God is the strength of my heart,
and my portion for ever."
(Psalm 73:26)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"All Grace?"

In speaking with a friend recently, we both rejoiced in the wonder that salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ is so freely given. "It's all grace" we affirmed to each other.

After our discussion, however, I was reminded that while our affirmation was true, it was actually only half true.

"The law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

Grace did not, and does not, come alone. It always makes its journey to our hearts and minds with Truth, its inseparable companion. We cannot rightly receive God's unexpected and unmerited favor apart from the parameters of His Word. Nor can we survive exposure to the light of His Word apart from being hid in the cleft of the rock that is our Lord Jesus Christ. We must have Truth if we are to rightly appropriate and enjoy grace. And we must have grace if Truth is to redeem rather than destroy us.

There are few more important guiding principles in our relationship with God. Authentic worship always includes both grace and truth. Minimizing either aspect inevitably leads to false worship. Grace without truth leads to the delusion of relating to a "Jesus" who does not actually exist, or as Paul termed, "another Jesus" (II Corinthians 11:4). Truth without grace leads to a sterile and hollow believing that ultimately results in condemnation, first in ourselves, and then directed toward others as we seek to deflect our personal sense of not meeting up to God's ways and standards. Both paths end in frustration and the tragedy of spiritual disillusionment.

Grace always beckons us to know and embrace Truth. Truth always directs us toward the grace that causes the light of God to warm and illuminate rather than blind and burn. We must know both aspects of genuine worship, and we can be sure that the Holy Spirit ever works to keep the dual flame of living relationship with the Lord Jesus burning within our hearts and minds.

"We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth."
(Colossians 1:3-6)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Someone, Somewhere Else" Part 2

When our sorrows and sufferings lead us to offer ourselves to God for His glory and the blessing of others, the Lord Jesus Christ once again walks in the world - in us.

"I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).

Apart from our Savior, we possess no loving altruism that could make such otherness possible. Left to itself, human flesh is a black hole drawing all things unto itself for its own benefit. Thus, the notion of our personal difficulties becoming the basis for the comfort of others would never cross our minds or hearts apart from the indwelling Spirit of Christ and the Word of God. Only God possesses within Himself such sublime beauty of character, nature, and disposition. Again, however, when He lives in us, we find ourselves led and enabled to "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6). Our pains, our wounds, our losses, and our tears serve to alert us to something our Lord purposes to do in us for "someone, somewhere else."

"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us" (Psalm 90:17). Unto a human race steeped in self centeredness and its rotten and poisonous fruits, God offers to us the gift of Himself and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He offers to us the possibility of experiencing unselfish devotion to others, perhaps best revealed when in our difficulties we become a bright sun of love rather than a black hole of selfishness. The Lord Jesus is "the beauty of the Lord our God," and He is "upon us" as we walk by faith and submission to His working in us.

"How can God be glorified in this challenge? Who can be blessed as we pray and offer ourselves to God for the benefit of others as our sorrows become the basis of their joy?" Only the Lord Jesus thinks this way, and only the river of His heart flows away from itself and unto the needs of others. However, He thinks such thoughts in us by the Holy Spirit, and we find ourselves thinking accordingly as we walk with Him. Our Lord is greatly known and revealed in such goodness, and all glory flows to His throne of grace. "Not I, but Christ" is our testimony of that Love not only revealed to us, but in us (Galatians 2:20).

"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."
(I John 4:16)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Someone, Somewhere Else"

Our wounds are meant to be the open portals through which the comfort of Christ flows unto others.

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God... Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh... so then death worketh in us, but life in you... all things are for your sakes" (II Corinthians 1:3-4; 4:10; 12; 15).

Careful consideration of these passages reveals that our Savior's way of personal suffering leading to the blessing of others is now our way. The Apostle Paul actually considered this as a gift to us - "unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). We are honored to walk the same path as the Lord Jesus (although it doesn't feel like an honor). We "suffer for His sake," and "all things are for your sakes." This spiritual understanding must be often considered if the ministry for God's glory and blessing to others made possible by our pains is to flourish.

The great challenge in this involves the fact that difficulty strongly tempts us to focus on ourselves. We all have different ways of responding, but our fleshly reaction to trial tends to raise in our minds the question, "Why is this happening to me?" Conversely, the Holy Spirit moves within us to foster different inquiries. "How can the Lord Jesus be honored in this?" "Who can be blessed as my difficulty opens a window in me through which He can be known by someone else?" This clearly taught Biblical truth is too rarely considered among born again believers, and our spiritual enemies fight hard to cloud and enshroud the power of our sufferings leading to balm for others.

Wherever we are challenged and hurting in this moment, someone, somewhere else is facing the same difficulty. Paul declared that our troubles are all "common to man" (I Corinthians 10:13). We may or may not know who they are, but we can pray to our Heavenly Father who does perfectly know the person and their circumstance. Our suffering can be a signal whereby we ask God to glorify the Lord Jesus in a fellow "companion in tribulation," ministering His comfort, strength, and redemption in accordance with the Divine will (Revelation 1:9). Heaven only knows how our Father responds to such determination to walk in the love of Christ, as enabled by the Spirit of Christ. Indeed, in Heaven some saint may greet us on a street of gold so pure and fine as to be transparent. "Brother, do you remember that day back on earth when as the tears fell from your face, your prayers ascended to the Throne for "someone, somewhere else" to know God's keeping and comfort? My brother, I was that someone to whom the Lord Jesus was ministered and while all the glory is His, I still want to thank you with all my heart." Doubtless we will together fall to our faces on that transparently golden path where the glory of Christ's love emanates and radiates forevermore to reveal His nail-scarred heart that is now our nail-scarred heart.

"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
(Romans 5:5)
"And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends."
(Job 42:10)

Monday, October 11, 2010

"The Ultimate and the Personal" Part 2

"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Revelation 19:6).

Can God do anything and everything? Is He that "omnipotent?" Concerning prayer, we must carefully consider this question in the light of Scripture.

The answer is yes and no. He can do all things that align with His character, nature, and will, or in terms of His glory and eternal purpose in Christ. However, He cannot do that which conflicts with who He is, and with the determinations based His perfect being and way. "God... cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). Thus, there are prayers believers pray that our Heavenly Father cannot answer. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3). This makes prayer a great challenge because we must know God and His truth if we are to pray with expectation of His answers.

"This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us" (I John 5:14).

We all have experience of praying long and diligently for people and for ourselves with no answer seemingly forthcoming. Our perception of circumstances and situations tells us that certain things need to happen. Provisions, protections, healings, and significant changes seem necessary, and we ask our Lord with the utmost sincerity. He seemingly doesn't answer, however, and in such times, we must hold out the possibility that God's ultimate purposes transcend our understanding of specific needs. We may be asking "amiss" and guided by fleshly motivations even if our requests are noble and sincere.

God's love for us "passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). However, we cannot play on His emotions or twist His arm, as it were, to cause actions on His part that conflict with the eternal purposes governed by His glory, nature, purpose, and will. This should fill our hearts with great assurance because our knowledge of our own interests and the interests of others is so presently limited. "We see through a glass darkly" (I Corinthians 13:12). We need a God who cannot be swayed by sentiment, but who rather always acts in accordance with a love guided by perfect wisdom and character. Our personal needs and the needs of others for whom we pray are always best fulfilled when our Lord's glory, will, and eternal purpose in Christ are furthered. We must share His primary focus on the ultimate as we pray, rejoicing that the personal will thereby be best served...

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
(Matthew 6:33)

Friday, October 8, 2010

"The Ultimate and the Personal"

God is loving enough, wise enough, and powerful enough to work in both ultimate and personal terms for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and our benefit.

God's glory, will, and eternal purpose in Christ must be viewed as the overarching purpose of our Heavenly Father. His working is God-centered because He knows who and what He is in relationship to creation, and to the angelic and human races. Our Lord is the originator and sustainer of all things, and all things must be in proper relationship to Him in order to rightly exist. God ever works to bring the universe into this righteous, tranquil, and joyous fulfillment, and His focus on the ultimate should fill our hearts with great assurance. Indeed, we would never want to become the center of Divine attention because such a misdirected focus on God's part would place all creation in grave peril.

Our Lord is nevertheless the most personal of beings. "The very hairs on your head are all numbered" declared the Lord Jesus. Therefore, God's necessary emphasis on His ultimate purpose does not hinder His precisely detailed working in accordance with our individual existence (Matthew 10:30). How the Lord does this nobody knows but Himself. But He does it. He works for His glory, will, and eternal purpose in Christ, while integrating our personality, history, calling, experience, condition, and circumstance into the inevitable fulfillment of "gathering together in one all things in Christ" (Ephesians 1:10).

Often in prayer for others and for myself, I begin with the ultimate, asking God to further His glory, will, and eternal purpose in Christ. Then I ask that He would effect this purpose in the most personal terms, specifically applied. Emphasis on the former establishes the proper altar for the latter, and ensures that our focus is our Heavenly Father's focus. The order and sequence are essential in prayer, and in our understanding of the Divine purpose in all things. The ultimate and the personal - God works for the fulfillment of both, and eternal wonder will fill our hearts as we see Him loving, wise, and powerful enough to track the hairs of our head even as He sustains and redeems a vast creation.

"God thundereth marvelously with His voice; great things doeth He, which we cannot comprehend. For He saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of His strength."
(Job 37:5-6)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"From Love"

The Christian life involves the ongoing process of the Holy Spirit's indwelling unselfishness more and more controlling our thoughts, attitudes, words, and deeds. "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor" (Ephesians 5:2).

Our Heavenly Father ever works to conform us to the image of the Christ who "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many" (Romans 8:29; Matthew 20:28). The journey begins when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at the time of our new birth. All the love we will ever need, both for personal fulfillment and outward ministry to others, resides in His indwelling presence.

"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).

This gift fulfills our Lord's prayer to His Father recorded in John 17. "I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:26). Believers never need to ask for the love whereby we put the self-centeredness of our flesh to death. God calls us rather to believe that through Christ, His love is present to motivate and enable self sacrificial giving of ourselves, our time, our attention, our devotion, and our commitment to the benefit of others. Certainly we don't always feel love, either in the sense of God's love for us, or our love for others. Deep within our hearts, however, we know our belovedness to our Lord, and we also delight in expressing His love to others (Romans 7:22). Regardless of contrary emotion, thought, and physical sensation, we must believe this to be the truth of our Christ-inhabited spirits. To the degree that we exercise faith in the indwelling Word, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, and the written Word, the Bible, we will more and more walk in accordance with the love God has lavishly "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit."

Christians live from love rather than for love. Remembering this blessed truth of grace will go far in revealing the self sacrificial character of the Lord Jesus that dwells in our redeemed spirits. As the Apostle Paul declared to Philemon regarding the dynamic means by which the potential of love becomes actual in us...

"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."
(Philemon 1:4-6)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"The Peace Of Our Hearts"

(A repeat from 2003)

Other human beings can be the agency by which heartache is brought to our doorstep -- sometimes repeatedly. Our response to God, however, determines whether such pain will control us.

Scripture commands that we "rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). This would not be possible if the actions or inactions of other human beings were the determining factor of our inner experience of peace. Our response to the Lord Jesus Christ forms our heart's spiritual atmosphere as we fulfill God's conditions of walking in peace. Trusting and submitting to Him, or failure to do so, always determines the controlling sensibilities of our hearts.

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

The Apostle Paul's promise is unequivocal. We must decisively choose to believe that rightly relating to God can assure peace within regardless of anything people may do to us. "In God have I put my trust. I will not be afraid of what man can do unto me" (Psalm 56:11). He is the keeper of our hearts, and the peace of our hearts. This is not an easy truth to believe because everything in a fallen world tells us otherwise, and our own flesh reminds us of how often we have been hurt by others. Our initial human response to the wrongs of others will also tempt us to believe that people are the arbiters of our peace. Nevertheless, the truth is that nothing and no one can thwart the tranquility of the Lord Jesus in those who "by prayer and thanksgiving let their requests be made known unto God".

True peace always rests upon the bedrock of what Christ has done and is doing rather than what people have done and are doing. "He is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). This is the plainly declared Word of our Lord who cannot lie. Let us therefore give thanks and let us believe that peace is always the fruit of trusting and submissive faith in our God rather than what people may or may not do.

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."(Isaiah 26:3)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Through the Keyhole

"Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (I Corinthians 8:1-2).

God is an infinite being. His truth is also immeasurable. Accordingly, whatever knowledge of His person and truth to which we have attained is a mere glimmer of light shining through the keyhole of eternal reality.

Certainly we can know enough to enter into a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus, and to thereafter live a consistent life of increasing godliness. We can also be confident in our convictions. However, "nothing yet as we ought to know" must form and inform our awareness that life with the Lord Jesus ushers us to an ocean without shore, a vista without horizon, and a heart whose goodness is immeasurable. "The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" is how the Apostle Paul termed the glory, and regardless of how far we have journeyed, the infinity of the Divine beckons us to venture ever onward (Ephesians 3:19).

I seek to avoid Christian communicators who do not give strong indication that this sensibility graces their understanding and attitude. Cocksure confidence is not at all the same as humble assurance, and the difference is palpable. Of course, I also avoid those uncertain of the centrality of the Lord Jesus, the Bible, and God's calling to love, trust, obey, and communicate Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. But neither do I want to be influenced by those overly sure of themselves and proud of their own understanding. It's a rare and beautiful thing when we find someone who navigates the narrow path of assurance and humility, and then communicates with both a humble and confident heart. When we hear such a voice, we do well to listen and heed.

"Nothing yet as we ought to know." Genuine knowledge and understanding of God and His truth imprints upon our souls this spiritual axiom. The more we see of Him, the more we realize how little we have actually known of His infinite greatness and goodness. May our Heavenly Father raise up a vast company of preachers, teachers, and writers who give evidence to both a deep and abiding assurance in Christ, and the humble awareness that the Light shining through the keyhole is but a glimmer of the infinitely luminous love of God.

"How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
(Romans 10:15)

Monday, October 4, 2010

"The Gift of People"

Have you ever considered the people you wouldn't know if you had not become a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ?

"That's a really sobering thought" remarked a good friend when I raised the subject. It is, isn't it? I think of my wife Frances, whom I met in church not long after I met the Lord. This wouldn't have happened had I not become a Christian, and thus I wouldn't have known her or the children (and now grandchildren) with which God has blessed us. I don't like thinking about this very long, of course, because it is "a really sobering thought."

I also think about you who read this devotional. I wouldn't have known any of you apart from God's grace in the Lord Jesus. Most of you I have not met face to face, but nevertheless your example, encouragement, challenge, and testimony of our Lord's goodness continually bless and strengthen me. I would not have wanted to have lived without the gift of your fellowship and friendship, and without having shared together "the unsearchable riches of Christ" for nearly 12 years now (Ephesians 3:8).

The list could go on and on of the people I would never have met if I had not become a believer. You have your own company of such blessings, and doubtless share with me the overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for the gift of people included in the gift of His salvation in the Lord Jesus. The body of Christ, composed of all who by faith have received His grace, expresses the goodness of the Savior to us in countless ways designed to personally reveal God's love for us. Indeed, the truth of the matter is that the goodness we have known in our brothers and sisters in Christ has been our Lord Himself, touching us through those in whom He dwells and walks (II Corinthians 6:16).

Occasionally I ponder what life would have been like if I had not received God's grace in 1975. In simple terms, it wouldn't have been life at all. "To live is Christ" declared the Apostle Paul, and the longer we walk with our Lord, the truer we know this to be (Philippians 1:21). We merely exist until the Savior becomes our Savior, and until we become a part of "the whole family in heaven and earth" (Ephesians 3:15). Our fellow believers reveal and confirm this wonderful truth in a multitude of moments and ways throughout our Christian life. Again, ponder those moments and ways - briefly, I would suggest - in the realization that none would have happened if the Lord Jesus had not made us His own. Much gratitude and thanksgiving will ensue as our hearts are overwhelmed by the gift of people included in the gift of salvation in Christ.

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life forevermore."
(Psalm 133:1-3)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"This Is Love"

(For those of you who don't care for golf, my apologies for this one :) ).

I saw the best golf shot I have ever seen today, and will likely ever see.

My son Noah, my grandson Jackson (age 4), and I played a round together at a local course. We had a great time on a beautiful fall day, and hit a lot of good shots (along with some stinkers!). Jackson is a natural golfer, and although too young to play a round, still was allowed to occasionally hit some balls. This he did with his usual golf skill and aplomb, and with jaw dropping results for a 4 year old (sounds like a bragging granddad, doesn't it?).

The all time "best golf shot" I reference happened on a hole where Noah hit his second shot over the green onto a cart path. The ball bounded to a spot behind a 15 foot pine tree, 50-60 yards from the green, which sat on a steep hill 10 feet above us. From where Noah stood, he could not actually see the green's surface because of the hill. His challenge involved hitting the ball over the tree, which was no more than 6-7 feet in front of him, and thus requiring him to get the ball very quickly up in the air. The surface of the green also sloped downward and away, so if Noah could somehow get the ball heading toward the green, there was seemingly no way it could have stopped once it landed. As he addressed the ball, I stood 15 yards or so to his left and waited to see the shot.

All I can say is that it was a thing of beauty that almost seemed to take place in slow motion. Noah somehow got the ball quickly in the air in order to navigate the pine tree. I was amazed enough by this, but then from my vantage point, I could see the very high trajectory of the ball carrying it perfectly above the green. It seemed almost to hover for a moment, and then dropped straight down.

Again, we could not see the green's surface because of the steep hill. I knew, however, that the shot had been so perfectly struck that Noah had somehow pulled off the impossible. I shouted to him, "This is going to be good!" Sure enough, I ran up the hill to the green and saw the ball sitting 6 inches from the pin. Unbelievable. There's just no way to hit that shot, and I honestly believe you could take Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson to the spot where Noah stood, have them hit 100 balls, and never get one as close as Noah accomplished.

Ok, the bragging granddad is now the bragging dad. Which leads to the point I want to make in all this. I would not have been nearly as thrilled by the shot if I had hit it myself (which I could not have done). It was far more exciting to have witnessed my son hit the shot. All the parents reading this know exactly what I mean. There's something about our children's success and accomplishment that is far more blessed than our own, and I believe there to be a sublime reason for the joy we find in their achievements.

"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).

God has forever existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. "From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God... I am the Lord, I change not" (Psalm 90:2; Malachi 3:6). At the heart of such glory is simply this: "the Father loveth the Son" (John 3:35). Personally, I believe this to be the very essence of God's own reality and existence. It is also the very essence and reality of our own existence in the sense that this is who our Creator is, and we must know it in order to rightly relate to Him. "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God" (I John 4:15). Our salvation depends on faith in this most elemental truth, and the ongoing experience of that salvation proceeds from our growing knowledge and apprehension of the relationship between the Father and the Son, as revealed by the Holy Spirit.

What we feel for our children are the glimmers and echoes deep within us of the eternally ancient glory of God's love that exists in His triune being. Such sensibility is beyond understanding and explanation, and even feeling seems inadequate to fully fathom the wonder of such devotion. Fathers and mothers, however, are aware that deep within our hearts there is something for our children so beautiful and affectionately committed to their well being that their blessedness is far more important than their own. This is God's communication to us of that love that can never be adequately conceptualized, the love of the eternal Father for His Son somehow glimpsed and intuitively apprehended in our love for our sons and daughters.

"Forever and ever the Father hath loved the Son, and the Son by the Spirit hath responded. Oh, the beauty of this glory is now living down deep inside us, and this is love... this is love" (From the song, "This Is Love").

I'll always remember Noah's miracle golf shot. I'll also try to remember that the way it made me feel was a glimpse of that which God the Father feels for His Son, and now for us as His trusting sons and daughters. Speaking of daughters, have I told you any of my Marie or Emmie stories? Well, there was this time...

"Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:24-26).

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Luminous With Love"

A writer of old, describing the glories of the new heaven and earth to come, declared that all shall be "luminous with love."

It is hard to imagine a more beautiful phrase, especially when we consider that it is the love of the Lord Jesus Christ that will radiate from every atom in the universe.

"Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him" (Ephesians 1:9-10).

In our present life we experience beauty with our senses, and then affirm the Lord's presence. "What a beautiful sunset! How great and good is our Lord!" In eternity, however, our response may be reversed. We will see beauty in a particular expression, and perhaps apprehend and acknowledge the glory of God first. "How glorious and beautiful is the Lord! And how He shines forth in that lovely flower!" The Christ in whom the universe is gathered will radiate from all things, presenting the love of God on eternally continual display. Our glorified hearts will continually respond, and all shall indeed be luminous with love.

We have no frame of reference for such glory, other than the firstfruits of Christ we presently "see through a glass darkly" (I Corinthians 13:12). Our hearts and lives are at times luminous, to the degree that we feel overwhelmed by the dynamic presence and working of God. We do well to give thanks for such experience, but we also do well to realize that the loving luminaries to come will cause every blessing of our present life to pale in comparison. This is our hope and assurance in the Christ who will grace every moment of eternity with realities luminous with a love that will never be exhausted in its glorious expression.

"Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of Thy countenance. In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For Thou art the glory of their strength."

(Psalm 89:15-17)