Friday, August 31, 2012

“Wondering” . . . Fascinated By God, and By His Truth

(Friends: during this series, the messages may frequently be longer than usual due to the subject matter.  Thanks for your patience, and I think you will find the considerations interesting, and hopefully, helpful in our walk with the Lord.  Glen)

Part 4 – “Something Wonderful”
     Relatively few people consciously think of themselves as gods, New Age Movement notwithstanding.  The deception nevertheless runs deep in humanity, as evidenced by the natural tendency of every son and daughter of Adam to constitute our own desires as the preeminent motivation of our hearts.

    “We all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Ephesians 2:3)

     When we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, God begins a work of overcoming our fleshly tendency toward selfish devotion to ourselves.  More importantly, our Heavenly Father incessantly seeks to uproot the delusion of Divinity – “ye shall be as gods” – that produces our innate exaltation of ourselves.  We begin the discovery that God alone is God by receiving a gift for which we do nothing other than believe in our hearts and confess with our tongues that the Lord Jesus is risen from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).  The new birth results within us, resulting in the Spirit of God infusing our being with His light.  “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27). 

    This illumination bears increasing witness to the transcendence of God and the dependency of ourselves.  The Apostle Paul taught that we are both “strong in the Lord,” and “weak in Him” (Ephesians 6:10; II Corinthians 13:4).  This references the proper perspective of God and ourselves established by the Holy Spirit whereby He progressively redeems us from the original deception embraced by Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:5).  Again, we must know that God is God, and we are not.  Moreover, we must know this truth far more than in merely belief and principle.  We must increasingly discover it as the guiding light of our existence whereby we live “having no confidence in the flesh,” and “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Philippians 3:3; Hebrews 12:2).

    For those involved in this redeeming process of truth, the recognition that God will not and cannot tell us all about Himself shines within us as a vitally necessary illumination.  We understand why the Bible never answers the question, “What is God?”  Certainly, we can know much – “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).  But we cannot know all – “the King of kings, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (I Timothy 5:15; 16).  Of course, such limitation will never satisfy those merely curious about God and Truth.  Those consecrated to the Lord Jesus, however, find sublime joy in the mystery of God no less than in His light.

    What is God?  The trusting heart smiles inwardly when it recalls that no answer will likely ever be forthcoming, or even possible.  Our Lord exists in a singular being inexplicable to created minds and sensibilities.  He is something wonderful, of that we can be sure.  By definition, therefore, the triune God fills with wonder all who look to Him in the realization that a long eternity will shine upon us and within us a Light more beautiful and brilliant than we can imagine.  However, that which remains unknown to us graces us with a beauty and brilliance just as sublime.  Thereby we know God as He is, and we know ourselves as we are.  This is Light, the Light of God that “shineth in darkness” (John 1:5).

“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, Thou art very great; thou art clothed with honor and majesty, who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment.”
(Psalm 104:1-2)

Next Week: we address the next question in our series on Wonder.  “Who is God?”

Thursday, August 30, 2012

“Wondering”... Fascinated By God, and By His Truth

(Friends: during this series, the messages may frequently be longer than usual due to the subject matter.  Thanks for your patience, and I think you will find the considerations interesting, and hopefully, helpful in our walk with the Lord.  Glen)

Part 3 – “First Light”

   We cannot presently define God.  We cannot know what He is.  I suspect this will always be the case as God forever remains God, and we forever remain ourselves. Certainly, our Lord has drawn breathtakingly near to those who trust in the Lord Jesus, but not so near that we become Him.  Nor does He become us.

     “O LORD God… there is none like Thee, neither is there any God beside Thee” (II Samuel 7:22).
     Early in its existence, the human race embraced the devilish lie that “ye shall be as gods”
(Genesis 3:5).  The deadly error infused our flesh with the same deception that long ago began with Lucifer.  We believe we can be more than God created us to be.

      “Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north” (Isaiah 14:13-14).  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

     The darkness of Satan became humanity’s darkness when Adam and Eve believed his lie.  “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not” (II Corinthians 4:4).  Such deception manifests itself in innumerable expressions of error, with pride being perhaps our greatest delusion.  Again, the grave notion pervades our flesh that we can “be as gods,” leading us to believe we should be able to fulfill our own desires and control our destiny. We possess no capacity for Divinity, however, leading to blindness and frustration.  “If a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Galatians 6:3).

    Unto such a race of the delusional, God provides the gift of a Bible that tells us countless wonders about Himself, ourselves, creation, and glories of time and eternity.  It does not include, however, a definition or explanation of its Author.  It does not tell us what He is because, by definition, the proud need to be humbled.  In this case, Scripture calls us to respond to One who will tell us much about Himself in order to draw us into His light.  He will not tell us all, however.  He will not tell us what He is.  

     We likely could not understand or survive a definition anyway.  “No man can see Me and live” (Exodus 30:20).  Even if we could, our Lord would likely withhold the information because we so desperately need to learn the foundational reality of our existence, namely, that God is God and there is no other (including and especially ourselves).  I believe this truth to be perhaps the first light that must shine forth into our hearts.  Indeed, the salvation in which we receive relationship with God apart from any work or effort on our part plainly reveals our complete helplessness to help ourselves.  How can we be gods when we cannot save ourselves from the pit of sin into which our original fathers fell (and in which we all freely and individually participate)?  We cannot, and freely given forgiveness and relationship with One whom we cannot define establishes us in the proper Creator/creation recognition of who God is, and who we are (and who we are not).

     What is God?  The fact that we cannot know, and that we know we cannot know should thrill our hearts with wonder.  There is and will always be something, Someone, greater than ourselves who beckons us to come and see some new facet of His ineffable glory.  Just as a child knows deeply within that his parents must be smarter, stronger and more capable than he is himself, so were our hearts made to find their joy in the God whose mystery fills our being with light every bit as much as His illumination.  Yes, the unanswerable question of “What is God?” provides the first light of who He is, and who we are.  There is no more blessed truth whereby our hearts discover peace both now and forevermore.

      In our next consideration, we will address the challenge of accepting God as God, and ourselves as His dependent creatures.

“Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.”(Psalm 9:20)
“Thou art God alone.”(Psalm 86:10)
“The King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”(I Timothy 6:16).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

“Wondering” Fascinated By God, and By His Truth Part 2

(Friends: during this series, the messages may frequently be longer than usual due to the subject matter. Thanks for your patience, and I think you will find the considerations interesting, and hopefully, helpful in our walk with the Lord. Glen)

 “Biblical Confirmation of An Inexplicable God”

    We would suspect that a God beyond definition who nevertheless desires to reveal Himself would provide clues in His Word to guide our awareness of what we can know, and what we cannot know

    He does, telling us outright that some truths are available, while others are not.

     The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

     A vivid illustration of this truth presents itself on the first day of creation.  “Let there be light ” pronounces the Lord (Genesis 1:3).   “And there was light.”  Interestingly, however, God never defines light in Scripture any more than He defines Himself.  He describes many of its characteristics and properties, as well as the relationship of His creation to Light.  But never does He seek to provide in His Word a detailed definition of this firstfruits of His creative work.  The closest He comes exists in the Apostle John’s declaration, “God is light” (I John 1:5).  This does not help us, however, since we can define neither God nor light.

    This perfectly accords with the scientific view of light.  For centuries, physicists have studied light.  They have discovered many of its properties and characteristics, and have harnessed the knowledge to make light an invaluable tool in our lives, from bulbs to lasers.  However, as this is written, the scientific community admits, “We don’t know what light is.”  Despite the vast amount of study, research, and utilization of light, a simple definition of the reality, as with God, escapes human understanding.  Thus, the very first aspect of the Lord’s creative process – “Let there be light” – reflects the mystery of His own existence and being.  “The secret things belong to the Lord…”

     Another Scriptural illustration of a God beyond definition presents itself in the experience of Israel, His chosen earthly people.  After their deliverance from Egypt, the Lord provided sustenance for their long sojourn in the wilderness.

    “And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was” (Exodus 16:13-15).

    In the original Hebrew, the word manna means, “What is it?”  God’s people did not recognize the physical sustenance He provided.  They partook of the manna after learning it was God’s provision of food, but never does He explain to them that the small round wafer actually consisted of sustenance beyond earthly reality and description.  “Man did eat angels' food: He sent them meat to the full” (Psalm 78:25).  Israel survived by partaking of manna.  Never, however, did they know what it was.

     In similar manner, we “live and move and have our being” in God.  He gives to us “life and breath and all things.”  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”  “To live is Christ,” and our generous Lord opens His hand and “satisfieth the desire of every living thing.”   As in the experience of Israel, however, God is manna to us when it comes to definition.  “What is it?”  Or rather, “What is He?”  The Bible unapologetically leaves us in darkness regarding this question for which an answer may seem vital, but which actually requires no explanation by God.

    Tomorrow we will consider the reason God provides no definition of Himself to our hearts and minds.  The explanation concerns both our proper understanding of Him, and of ourselves. 

“The King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”
(I Timothy 6:16).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

“Wondering”. . . Fascinated By God, and By His Truth Part 1

Part 1 -- “What Is God?”

    What is God?  The question suggests that we seek to define Him. 
This is highly problematic because we normally define things by comparison with other things, and to a lesser degree, by contrast.

    For example, the question, “What is a bear?” might begin with the response that a bear is an animal.  This leads to familiar reasoning as we consider other creatures known as animals. Animals are multicellular, mobile, possess internal organs for the purpose of digestion of food and production of energy. They tend to procreate by sexual reproduction (although not always), and they feed on other living things.  These facts, among countless others, define animals for us, and thus begin to provide some framework of understanding the nature and definition of bears.

      The availability of comparisons also provides contrasts.  We  might further our definition of bears by considering them in juxtaposition with other non-bear realities.  Bears are not fish.  They are not trees.  They are not, generally speaking, weak and defenseless creatures. Again, countless other features and characteristics antithetical to the nature of bears help us to discover a working definition of this creature interesting to consider, although not so interesting to encounter!

     A working definition of God, conversely, does not allow for the type of definition possible for bears, or for any other created entity.  The Psalmist and the prophet unite to provide the reason for this difference.

    “O God, who is like unto Thee?... There is none like unto Thee, o Lord!”  (Psalm 71:19; Jeremiah 10:6).

    God exists in His own kingdom, phylum, class and order, as it were. He cannot be compared with anything else, and thus, we cannot define Him by utilizing our normal conceptualmethodology.  Contrast does not help us either since we possess no comparative means of defining God.  Simply considering that He is not a fish does not enlighten us because the understanding of what He is not still leaves us with nothing with which we can compare Him.

     An apparent intellectual dilemma confronts us.  We cannot define God.  We cannot answer the question, “What is God?” The Bible never provides specific light in this matter.  It speaks of the Lord’s existence, His nature, His characteristics, His ways, His actions, and the internal workings of His infinite heart and mind. However, Scripture never seeks to offer to us a working definition of God. There is none, at least not for our finite minds.  Thus, we find ourselves at the precipice of the greatest mystery our minds will ever ponder.  We exist by the determination of One who, rightly considered, causes us to honestly confess, “I don’t know what He is!” Or even more, “Icannot know what He is!”

     To confirm, God appears in the first verse of Scripture with no explanation or definition of Himself.  Genesis merely records His original creative activity.

    “In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1). 

    This abrupt entrance of God in the Bible, given without explanation or definition, tells us something about ourselves, namely, that we possess no capability to fully understand our Maker’s essence.  Certainly, the Bible tells us much about countless other truths that describe the living God.  We even find ourselves called into living and personal relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Never, however, do the writers of Scripture address the question of essence. Never do they define God. Again, this seems to present a dilemma.  Rightly received and interpreted, however, this Biblical omission shines perhaps the brightly light of all concerning our glorious Creator, Sustainer, and Savior.  We will consider this illumination in our next essay.

“The King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”(I Timothy 6:16).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wondering . . .Fascinated By God, and By His Truth


     Relationship with God, rightly known and experienced, necessarily involves frequent experiences of awe, fascination, and wonder. Indeed, too many days without some experience of the transcendent nature of Christianity’s great promise – the living presence of God with and within us - hinders the most devoted believer from experiencing the Christian life as our Heavenly Father means it to be.  Perhaps most importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died a lonely death on the cross of Calvary to provide for us the perpetual reality of an earthly life lived by Heavenly means.  How can we comfortably live as merely ourselves when such Love has made the trusting heart into the very scene of the Most High God?       

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

 In days to come, we will consider together the great questions that lead us to immerse ourselves in the wonder of the Divine and human united in Christ, and now revealed in us by the Holy Spirit.  Five questions will guide our wondering, as it were.

What is God?

Who is God?

Where is God?

When Is God?

Why is God?     

 A long eternity will not suffice in our full discovery of the Biblical answers to these questions.  The Spirit of God nevertheless beckons us to come and see glories that will thrill our hearts in both the now and the forever.  In days to come, we will seek to mine at least a bit of the gold presently available through the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the church of God.  Even the smallest portion of gold dust unearthed in so sublime a quest can fill and fulfill our hearts with the wonder that causes our lives to glimmer with the light of His light, and the life of His life.  May our Lord lead and illuminate us as we seek to discover together new facets of “the unsearchable riches of Christ.

“Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”(Psalm 139:5-6)


Friday, August 24, 2012


     While we often allow ourselves to be distracted by the world, the devil, and the flesh, nothing ever deters our Lord from the perfection of His devotion to us.       This was true during His earthly life, when “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,” where a cross to be suffered for our sake awaited Him (Luke9:51).  It is also true in His heavenly life, wherein “He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).  Moreover, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). 

     A primary aspect of God’s faithfulness involves this perfect capacity for undistracted attention to His purposes in our lives. “The Lord thinketh upon me” declared David of God’s unwavering attention directed toward all of His trusting children (Psalm 40:17).   Never must we get God’s attention when seeking His fellowship or aid.  A fixed gaze and determined Heart and Mind look upon us from Heaven.  “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry” (Psalm 34:17).

    “Awake to righteousness” (I Corinthians 15:34).  I find that remembering the truth of God’s attentiveness often snaps me out of my own frequent distraction from Him.  Recalling His gaze upon me helps to redirect my “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Indeed, if God so loves us that looks upon us with unwavering devotion, the trusting heart will inevitably seek to requite His faithfulness.  This moment offers such opportunity.  May we look into the Eyes, as it were, that ever and forever look upon us with perfect attention to our well being and conformity to the image of Christ.  Yes, our God is undistracted. 

“The Lord looketh from Heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men.”(Psalm 33:13)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

 “The Fruit of Faithfulness”

     The more we discover and embrace the Biblical truth that our faithfulness is fruit, the more we will focus the eyes of our heart on the Vine that infuses us with His life.

     “I am the Vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5).

     Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ do not become more devoted by determining to become more devoted.  We rather determine to “behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” leading to our being “changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). The tributary of our faithfulness flows from the River of Christ, which itself proceeds from the Ocean of His Father and our Father.  “I live by the Father… “God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (I John 4:9). The Holy Spirit reveals in us the faithfulness of the Son to the Father as we lay aside deluded human efforts in order to apprehend the power of dynamic Divine effort. “God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).

     No believer travels far down the path of righteousness before discovering that we can no more independently walk in its daunting way than we could have embarked upon the path to begin with.  “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (Colossians 2:6). Whatever happened in those first twinkling moments of being birthed into the Light of God must continue to happen in this life and forevermore.  We must “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).  We must “have no confidence in the flesh,” and we must “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:3; II Peter3:18). 

     After mixing more metaphors than one essay should tolerate, we return to our original illustration. Faithfulness is fruit.  Christ is the Root, the Vine, and the beloved Subject of His Father’s devoted care.  We are the branches upon which the fruit of the Holy Spirit buds, blossoms and bears as we remember and affirm the corollary Biblical truths that “without Me ye can do nothing,” and “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (John 15:5; Philippians4:13).

“The fruit of the Spirit is faith.”(Galatians 5:22)“The remnant… shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.”(Isaiah 37:31

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

“The Leadership of Love”

     Good leaders lead by example, word, and respect for those subject to their authority.  They do not dominate, coerce, manipulate, or micromanage.

     We know this because the best Leader of all guides His followers in a sublime humility of heart, and confidence in His capacity to instill genuine devotion in those subject to His authority.

     “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
    “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).

     The Lord Jesus Christ, Himself under the authority of His Father, leads His trusting children with a gentle heart and hand.  He exercises firmness as necessary, “for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).  His primary means of guidance nevertheless involves the winning of our hearts by the revelation of His heart, rather than the cowering of our souls by fearful domination.  Indeed, only love begets love – “we love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).    

     The Holy Spirit, depicted in Scripture as the gentlest of creatures, a dove, also guides us in a quiet leadership rather than domineering force.  He can be grieved, and the consecrated Christian will know when this is the case.  However, the exercising of His authority is generally so unobtrusive that believers often walk paths paved by the Spirit of God without our even knowing He has gone before us.  “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.
He shall glorify Me” (John 16:13-14).

    Perhaps most of all, God relates to His trusting children in Christ as a Father.  His children well know His authority, and even fear Him in the sense of knowing that He will always act toward us in accordance with our truest need.  The Bible, however, plainly reveals a Heavenly Father whose heart beats with tender affection and kindness toward sons and daughters who will one day be  perfectly conformed to the image of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus.  “Grace to you and peace, from God our Father” (Romans 1:7).

    We follow under the Lordship of a Father, a Lamb, and a Dove who sanctify rather than subjugate.  The believer who increasingly discovers this leadership of love will increasingly respect the God we more and more deem worthy of our complete devotion.  Again, love begets love.  To the degree we look into the devoted heart of our Master will be the degree to which we long to devote our own hearts to Him in this life and forevermore.

“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
(Psalm 23:3)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

“All Things In Christ”

     Having begun with Him, creation ever moves toward a day in which it will be immersed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

     “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).

     The Apostle Paul clearly references a spiritual reality in his anticipation of “all things in Christ.”  All creation will clearly exist in direct proximity to the Lord Jesus, as opposed to the present time when His presence is pervasive, but veiled.

     “The whole earth is full of His glory… For now we see through a glass, darkly” (Isaiah 6:3; I Corinthians 13:12).

     Our lives teem with the dynamic involvement of the One in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  Even the godliest among us, however, see but the minutest portion of God’s presence and working on our behalf.  “Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not” declared Jacob of his time at the place he referred to as “the house of God and the gate of Heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17).  Every believer must confess the same as we faithfully confess the Bible’s affirmation that “the Lord is in this place,” while honestly admitting that too often, “I knew it not!”

     An eternity approaches when the glory of the Lord Jesus will shine forth from every spirit and molecule of heaven and earth.  “They shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:11).  Presently, we walk by faith, choosing to believe in a Presence and involvement we see faintly on even our best days.  We see nevertheless, and the wonder is often overwhelming.  Let us therefore rejoice in a coming eternity that will continually display “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).  We’ve seen nothing yet, when compared with the future vision of a Savior whose “greatness is unsearchable,” and whose goodness is so vast that it will never be fully apprehended (Psalm 145:3; 31:19).

“Of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
(Romans 11:36)

Monday, August 20, 2012

 “Prayer – At the Drop of a Heart” 

 “Continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

 The Apostle Paul commands that born again believers be always ready for prayer, or as today’s title indicates, we pray “at the drop of a heart.”

Certainly we cherish and require our private times of devotion in which we ferret ourselves away to seek God in His Word, and in expressing our hearts to Him.  No less than the Lord Jesus Christ spent such time with His Father – “It came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray” (Luke6:12).  The Holy Spirit will doubtless lead believers to the same privilege and gift of private communion with God.

  However, we must be careful that we do not miss the greater gift of prayer anywhere and everywhere, about anything and everything.  The Gospel of the Lord Jesus offers to us the permanent and abiding presence of God.  “I am with you always (Matthew28:20).  While we may be able to more intensely focus and concentrate in the private place of prayer, the truth of the matter is that our Lord is no more with us there than along the busy avenues of our hectic lives.  Thus, we need not wait to pray until we occupy a particular place or posture.  We communicate with our Lord at the drop of a heart, as it were, being ready to “continue instant in prayer.” 

  “The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.   Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and Ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…. the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:19-23).       

 When I first became a believer, I was taught that private times of communion with God would lead to continual communion with Him.  I did not find this to be the case.  I discovered rather that viewing prayer as an anywhere and everywhere opportunity leads to far greater likelihood that private devotional times will be desired and practiced.  I had reversed the order, so to speak, and thereby limited my experience of the pervasive gift of grace provided through the Lord Jesus.  The more Biblical understanding of “continuing instant in prayer,” or of “prayer, at the drop of a heart,” makes relationship with God the continually living experience He means it to be.  Our Savior suffered and died to provide so great a gift.  May we believe and live in such a manner as to appreciate the blessedness of God’s abiding presence and desire to commune with us anywhere and everywhere, and at anytime and all the time.

 “Pray without ceasing.”(I Thessalonians 5:17)


Friday, August 17, 2012

“I Will Not Go Out Free” - Revisited

   We referenced earlier this week the Old Testament laws regarding indentured servitude in ancient Israel.

    “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.  If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.  If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him forever” (Exodus 21:5-6).

    This fascinating mandate foreshadows the greatest Servant who ever lived, the Lord Jesus Christ.  For our sakes, He took upon Himself a humanity from which He will never step way.  The New Testament, in the present tense, refers to our Lord as “the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).  Although forever Divine, He will also forever retain the wounded humanity that made possible His sacrificial death for our sins, and the salvation of all who receive the free gift made possible by so great an act of mercy.  “I will not go out free!” declared the servant of old regarding the wife and children given to Him by His master.  “I will not go out free!” declares our Savior of the church given to Him by His Father.   “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me” (Hebrews 2:13).

     A new song resulted from the message the other day.  I thought I’d send the lyrics today as another illustration of the sublime nature of our Lord’s love for us, and the sacrifice involved whereby He promises, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

I Will Not Go Out Free
I will not go out free,
forever I’ll stay with thee.
Pierce My hands, My feet, and side,
that all may know My sacrifice.
For I will not go out free.

Better to remain a slave,
And with My master stay
Whatever He wants I’ll gladly be,
If it means I’ll always stay with thee,
Oh I will not go out free.

Forever we’ll be side by side,
My Spirit will fill you with My life.
And this know with all certainty,
That I will always be with thee,
For I will not go out free…
I will not go out free!

Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
(Ephesians 5:25-27)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

“They Know Not What They Do”

     Why are human beings redeemable, while Satan and the demons are not?  In the hour of His suffering and death, the Lord Jesus Christ answered this question for us. 

     “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). 

     Early in its history, the human race fell into the darkness of blind deception through the agency of an outside influence.  In full knowledge of his sin, Adam chose to believe the devil rather than God.  “Adam was not deceived” (I Timothy 2:14).  However, his choice led him into a blindness toward God and truth passed down to all of his offspring through the ages.  “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not” (II Corinthians 4:4).  Until we believe, this devilish darkness enshrouds our understanding of God and His ways to the degree that the Lord views us as redeemable, although we all remain responsible for our unbelief and sin.

     This is not the case with the devil and his minions.  No outside influence led Lucifer to forsake his relationship to God and the unique place given to him in the Divine purposes.

    “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee… thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” (Ezekiel 28:14-15; 17).

     Fallen angels were fully aware of their rebellion.  With minds fully cognizant of their sin, Satan and those who became demons looked God square in the face, as it were, and refused to continue in His fellowship and purposes.  The “LightBearer” (the meaning of the name “Lucifer”) fell from the Light, while in the Light and fully knowledgeable of his determination.  Thus, he cannot be redeemed, nor can those who joined him in his willful rebellion.  “The devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

     As we witness and pray for those who do not believe, let us remember that both blindness and willfulness characterize the hearts of fallen humanity.  “They know not what they do” declared the Savior as wicked human hands nailed their Maker to a cross of shame, sorrow, agony, forsakenness and death.  This same Christ is a Redeemer of those who still walk in darkness, but who are subject to coming forth into the Light if only they will turn their blinded eyes toward the One who enables us to see.

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
(Ephesians 5:14)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

“I Will Not Go Out Free”     

During His earthly sojourn, had we asked the Lord Jesus Christ about the timing of history’s end, He might have responded very simply, “I don’t know.”

   “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

 This offers a different view of our Savior than we normally consider.  He was and is God.  However, He was and is man.  As such, the Lord Jesus voluntarily took upon Himself a limitation that should fill us with wonder and loving appreciation.  He didn’t know everything during His life on the earth, and since He will forever retain His humanity, the same may be true in eternity.

    “He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith, all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him.  And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (I Corinthians 15:27-28).
We have no frame of reference for such condescension.  That a member of the triune Godhead should become man and forever remain man speaks of a truth we will never fully fathom. “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh” (I Timothy 3:16).  The thought that always comes to mind upon this consideration is the sacrifice that must be involved in such humility. For our sakes, the Lord Jesus did not surrender His Divinity.  He did, however, take upon Himself the garb of our humanity in full knowledge of the consequences in both time and eternity. 

In the Old Testament, an indentured servant was obligated to serve his master for 6 years (Exodus21:2-6).  In the seventh year, he could freely leave, with one exception.  If he had married during the time of servitude, he could not take his wife and children with him when leaving his master.  He must go out alone.  He could chose to remain a slave, however, and if he did, his master would pierce the ear of the slave, leaving tangible scars to indicate his permanent indenture.  Far more, however, the servant’s love for his master, wife and children shone forth as a shining jewel of his heart’s devotion.  “The servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children.  I will not go out free” (Exodus 21:5).

     Our Savior is this servant.  “I will not go out free” declares the Lord Jesus of the limitations taken upon Himself in order to bind Himself unto us forever.  “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me” (Hebrews2:13).  He bears upon His body the tangible scars of His determination, wounds imprinted by the Father who smote His beloved Son for our sakes.  Few considerations will more humble us with heart-filling awe, and few will more instill in us the desire to love this one who so loves us.  “I will not go out free.”  For you and for me, the Lord Jesus made this sacrifice in time, but far more, He makes this sacrifice forever.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”(Philippians 2:5-8)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

“In Control… Not In Control”

     The Bible unapologetically presents to us the enigma of two seemingly contradictory truths, namely, that God is in control of His creation, and that He is not in control of His creation.

     “God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:3; 11).
     “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: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:13-14).

     In the ultimate sense, and in His amazing wisdom whereby He coordinates all things to fulfill His ultimate purposes, God is indeed in control.  Therein we rest our hearts in the assurance that creation is safe in the providence of its Creator.  In the temporal sense, however, we must be careful to not assign “control” to many of the things that presently happen in a world that lieth in wickedness” (I John 5:19).  God does not determine, nor is He responsible for that wickedness, as James’ aforementioned statement plainly declares.  No more grave and deceptive darkness can descend upon us than to assign the origin of any sin to the Lord whose character, nature, and way forever exists in pristine righteousness.  “As for God, His way is perfect” (II Samuel 22:31).  He did not tempt or lead Lucifer to originate the first sin, nor does He tempt or lead anyone to commit any sin (Ezekiel 28:15).

     This presents a dilemma to our limited understanding that cannot be perfectly reconciled.  How can “all things” work according to God’s counsels when all things do not directly occur by His heart and hand?  Many ways to illustrate an answer may come to our mind, and some may offer a ray of light.  At the end of the day, however, we must accept the fact that created beings cannot completely fathom the ways of an infinite Creator, whose “thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8).  Furthermore, we must be careful to explain ourselves when we affirm that “God is in control” lest anyone should think that we mean He causes sinners to sin.  Failure to wisely express our rhetoric in this matter leads to misunderstanding in the minds of those with whom we seek to share the Gospel.

     There is no shame or weakness in the honest confession that we seek to lead people to faith in a God we cannot fully understand or explain.  On the contrary, the truth of the Gospel demands that we answer as many questions as possible, but that we also stand ready to admit, “I don’t know.”  Indeed, we seek to lead people into a relationship with One far greater than themselves.  By definition, they cannot fully understand the ways of God.  Those who respond to the Lord Jesus Christ will accept this exaltation of the Divine and humbling of the human.  Those who won’t, won’t.  Let us therefore offer as much light as possible, while acknowledging that some things, such as the present consideration, remain in a necessary enigma that reveals bright and necessary light about God, and about ourselves.

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

Weekly Memory Verse

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Jackson Chronicles Part 8 -- Our Father’s Good Pleasure

(Our grandson Jackson, now 6, continues to provide through timely comments insight into the heart and way of God. And don’t’ even get me started about Emma!) 

Our grandchildren Jackson and Emma stayed with us this past weekend. Yesterday afternoon, we had homemade pizza for lunch. While watching me prepare it, Jackson mentioned that he really enjoyed our version of pizza. “That’s great, Jack,” I responded. “I really like making it for you.” 

“And I like eating it!” Jack said in his inimitable way, without a moment’s hesitation. 

This led me to think about which of us actually receives the most joy from the experience of preparing and consuming the pizza. I have no doubt that Jackson enthusiastically loves his part, the eating part. However, knowing that he loves it causes in me a perhaps greater delight in the preparation and provision side of the culinary equation. There’s just something about doing something for someone you love that causes our hearts to rejoice in a way that nothing else elicits. 

Such an emotional sensibility originates outside ourselves. 

 “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

 God’s heart beats with untold measures of generosity and the determination to lavish upon His creation “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). Indeed, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” because our Creator so loves to provide, even as the Psalmist declared, “Thou openest Thine hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing” (Acts 20:35; Psalm 145:16). Originally created in His image, humanity thus finds that the bells of our own hearts ring brightest and most beautifully when they peal for the blessing of others rather than our own pleasure. Charity… seeketh not her own” (I Corinthians 13:5). 

The Bible unequivocally declares God’s pleasure in giving. We do well to echo Jackson’s sentiments that we enjoy receiving. Furthermore, we praise the heart and hand of the One who “giveth to all life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25). He makes provision for us through the most sublime treasure chest imaginable, that is, the blessing of the One who bears the prints of nails upon hands and feet to tell us just how much God loves to give… 

 “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Friday, August 10, 2012


     As a child, I loved the comic strip hero Superman.  By this, I mean the truly Superman of old, rather than the current one whom I hear is filled with uncertainty, angst, and the questioning of his moral authority to do the things he does.

     I often stuck a towel in the back of my shirt, pretending it to be my cape.  I then “flew” around the house or yard as Superman, searching for bad guys to thwart, or catastrophes to prevent.  Occasionally, a piece of kryptonite would weaken me. As with the comic strip Superman, however, I’d always find a way to overcome and escape the challenge.  I loved pretending to be the invincible hero to whom everyone looked for help and rescue.

     Only I wasn’t Superman.  I was merely a pretender.  This was fine for a child, but it leads me to think of far more serious issues, namely, how easy it is for adults to deceive themselves into believing they’re something other than what they actually are.  Most importantly, it is more than possible for people to tuck a cape into their shirt spiritually, as it were, acting as born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ without truly knowing Him.

     “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5).

     One can profess faith, pray, read the Bible, live a moral life, attend church, and even witness to others without actually having a genuine relationship with God.  A person can even serve as a pastor or preacher, but actually be merely a pretender.  The New Testament plainly declares this challenging truth, and while God would never seek to cause doubt in a genuine believer, He does include warnings in His Word about those who dress the part without actually being the real item.

     Those truly born of the Spirit know.  “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).  The sons and daughters of God in Christ must also know, however, that pretenders exist in Christendom who exhibit characteristics of godliness without experiencing true relationship with God.  A cape and simulated flying do not always indicate that Superman is at hand.  Nor do the trappings of spirituality assure that a heart of spirituality exists in the practicer.  Scripture calls us to such awareness, and we do well to recognize the difficult, but necessary truth.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
(II Timothy 3:1-2; 5)
“Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
(Matthew 7:22-23)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"At Peace"

(Frances wrote this for her blog, The Powder Room.  I thought you would be blessed by it.)

 "Are you at peace?"  

This is a question I posed to my husband the other day, even though I knew his answer would be "Yes."

     Glen and I love to kayak. There are many times we have paddled into an area of water so still the reflection is like glass. The water seems to be at a perfect standstill --completely peaceful.  But in truth it never is.      

There is always a current in the river, the water underneath moving and turning, flowing, but without a hint of movement on the surface.

This water is like people I know who are peaceful people.  Even though life may throw them a curve now and then, even though they are facing great currents and turmoil, they remain peaceful.     

Then there are some Christians whom I don't think of as exactly peacefulpeople. They seem stirred, disturbed, troubled and even in downright crisis.     

So the second question I asked my husband was, "If a Christian is not at peace, why is that?" I thought I had a pretty good answer but his was much better than mine:

     "To whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19).

      If we are in turmoil, stirred up, disturbed or troubled as Christians, if we are -- as one person I know says, "in a real crisis", why is that? I think it is probably because there is something somewhere in our lives that we haven't yet or won't yet trust to the authority of the Lord Jesus. Something we just won't take our hands off of to let Him have it.      

In our conversation, I told Glen how there are some chores I will let our grandchildren do. Our granddaughter Emma particularly loves dusting (I think she just loves to play with the duster.) There are some chores, though, that I simply cannot trust them to do because I do not believe they will do them well, or do them the way I want them done. Perhaps that is how we are with the Lord sometimes.     

 Perhaps when we are in turmoil over something, it is because we know we should trust the Lord about it, but we don't want to because we don't want Him to have it lest He do it differently than we want it done! We are wrongly afraid of what He might do with our situation.     

 There have been so many times in my own life when I had an expectation for an outcome, I just knew how it should all play out. I trusted the Lord during the calamity of it, but it didn't play out at all the way I expected.  It turned outinfinitely better than I could have imagined. The times I didn't trust Him and sought to do things my own way, well. . . I'd just rather not talk about those.     

When the Lord Jesus was walking on the water to the disciples in the boat, Peter asked the Lord to bid him to come to Him and the Lord Jesus did so. Peter began to walk on the water. Then his sight shifted from the Lord to the waves, he began to be fearful and to sink. He had to cry out to the Lord again, but this time for the Lord to save him. He went from a man of faith to a man of failure; from a man of seeking to a man of sinking, in a matter of seconds.      

"And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14:31)      

"Wherefore didst thou doubt?" When we experience turmoil instead of peace, when worry becomes our pillow, we can ask ourselves the same question. Why do we doubt the One who can walk on water and calm the winds and the waves? Why do we question the wisdom of the One who "telleth the number of the stars...calleth them all by their names," (Psalm 147:4)?     

In Revelation 19 the Apostle John said, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon Him was called Faithful and True... And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."  If God the Father has bestowed the names of "Faithful and True," "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" upon the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is one thing we can be completely sure of, we can trust Him with absolutely everything in our lives. Be it big or small, long-term or fleeting, He is trustworthy and He will always be so.     

Whatever that thing is in our lives that is threatening to rob our peace, whatever is furrowing our brow and wringing our hands, let us give it to Him at last and forever. He can handle our problems with perfect wisdom and infinite understanding and He wants us to know His peace.

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

(John 14:27)    


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Glimmering Penny Part 2

     “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:17-19).

     The Apostle Paul’s admonition to his protégé Timothy clearly indicates that God blesses some believers with wealth for the purpose of their being a blessing to others.

     Certainly, these brothers and sisters in Christ face temptations that most other Christians do not experience.  How easy it is to “trust in uncertain riches” rather than “the living God, whose giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”  However, the Holy Spirit can lead and enable believers with means to worship the Source rather than the supply.  Subsequently, they recognize God’s material blessing as opportunity for glorifying the Lord Jesus by being always “ready to distribute.”

     Whether we possess one glimmering penny or many, our Heavenly Father calls us to recognize the truth that all we are and all we have belongs to Him.  “Ye are not your own” (I Corinthians 6:19).  No greater peace descends upon us than this recognition of stewardship regarding our possessions and ourselves.  If God blesses us with wealth, we see it as opportunity to serve Him with a heart generous toward the glory of the Lord Jesus and the blessing of others.  If He blesses us with “the widow’s mite,” as it were, we see it as opportunity for the same.  All belongs to our Master.  We belong to Him.  May He grant much grace to rejoice in “the unsearchable riches of Christ” whereby our hearts are filled regardless of whether our hands hold much or little.

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
(Philippians 4:11-13)
“Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
(I Corinthians 10:31)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Glimmering Penny

       A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked” (Psalm 37:16).

     Fleeting are the pleasures of those who ignore or reject the Lord Jesus Christ.  He alone constitutes life in its truest sense – “to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).  Thus, a crumb eaten in faith satisfies far more than a sumptuous feast partaken without acknowledgement and appreciation directed toward the Provider of all things.

     Life lived with God - both in relationship and in conscious awareness – makes possible an enjoyment of His gifts that does not otherwise exist.  The businessman who seals his deal for millions in profit may benefit in many ways from the hard work and good fortune that fills his coffers.  The pauper may buy only a morsel with the penny he finds along the difficult pathways of his existence.  However, if the former fails to give thanks, and if the latter looks toward Heaven with gratitude, the penny will glimmer with riches infinitely beyond the fading flickers of ever-waning worldly wealth.  Indeed, the contentment of Christ remains with the penny acknowledged as His loving gift and provision. “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?  For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven… Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt  ” (Proverbs 23:5; Matthew 6:20). 

     We often hear of money and possessions that “you can’t take them with you when you die.”  Certainly, this is true of bounty unrecognized as blessing.  However, we do take with us those things provided by God for which we humbly gave thanks.  That is, we take with us the Christ who was the true joy of every joy, the actual blessing of all blessings, and the very Life of our lives.  God’s gifts experienced with a grateful heart cause the seemingly smallest provisions to loom infinitely large in the light of eternity.  The breath of this moment comprises one of those inconspicuous bestowals of grace.  Let us give thanks, and thus experience yet again the full heart of “to live is Christ.”

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
(Matthew 6:19-21)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coffee Can Caper - Revisited

    Some of you may recall a message we sent out last year that concerned the subject of “not making work for other people.”  I wrote about times long ago when our children would ask if they could have an item in a store.  If I said no, I required them to return the item to the precise location on the shelf where they had picked it up, again, so as not to make work for other people.  I also mentioned that I had been tempted similarly in recent times regarding a can of coffee at our local store, and the joy I had in returning it to its proper place upon remembering days gone by with our children.  Moreover, I recounted experiencing the blessedness of Christ’s love in a small but undeniably real opportunity to “walk, even as He walked” (I John 2:6).

    I bring this up because I shared this again in several sermons yesterday.  I don’t know how this affected those listening, but for me, it refreshed me in the wonder of our Lord not only directing His love to us, but depositing His love in His trusting children through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.   “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).  Our Heavenly Father made us to be far more than mere objects of His love.  Born again believers rather exist as the habitations of God’s sublime character of otherness and willingness for self-sacrifice.

     Discovering the blessedness of such a gift involves a lifelong process of spiritual growth and maturation.  Our flesh struggles against the unselfishness wrought in us by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:17).  He inexorably works, however, to reveal in both our attitude and practice the truth declared by the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).  Countless opportunities present themselves to know the love of God as revealed in us, most of them involving small matters such as returning coffee cans to their proper place.  Expecting the Holy Spirit’s orchestration of these opportunities places us in the position to recognize them, and to act upon them by making the initial small sacrifice that leads to a heart of ongoing joy as Christ’s love for us manifests itself as Christ’s love in us.

      We will never get over the wonder expressed simply in the words of the old hymn, “Jesus loves me, this I know.”  However, the gift given in the Jesus who loves us grants to trusting hearts an even more awe-inspiring gift, namely, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus dwells in us to conform us to His image (Romans 8:29).  It is more blessed to love than to be loved, and in both time and eternity, God’s trusting sons and daughters will discover that Christ’s “so great salvation” gives to us a gift best known not in receiving, but in giving.

 “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)

Friday, August 3, 2012

“Beauty, Fragrance, Flavor”

     I do not understand how anyone can see, smell and taste a beautiful summer peach without knowing that a wise and loving God exists to create such wonder.

    “The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood that the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead” (Romans 1:20).

    If our Lord were a different person, He could have made us with no need for food.  Moreover, He could have created food with no fragrance or flavor.  Being who He is, however, the Lord made us with both the necessity for food, and the capacity to enjoy it.  “God… giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17).

     The aforementioned peach, among countless other gifts of sustenance, reveals the Divine intention for humanity that we far more than merely exist.  “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  There is no asceticism in Biblical Christianity wherein we seek a life without beauty, fragrance and flavor in order to achieve godliness.  On the contrary, enjoyment of God’s many gifts comprises a vital aspect of genuine holiness whereby acknowledgement of His unspeakably generous heart elicits loving response and appreciation.  He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion. He hath given meat unto them that fear Him” (Psalm 111:4-5).

    A peach is a relatively small thing – unless it happens to be the creation of One who made the sight, the fragrance, and the taste for the enjoyment of those to whom He also gave eyes, noses, and taste buds.  Then it becomes a gift of love to be enjoyed with acknowledgement, praise, thanksgiving, and the determination to respond in kind to a Father who delights in the giving of good gifts to His trusting children.  Countless other expressions of God’s love for us provide opportunity for a life truly lived, based upon a heart truly aware that…

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”
(James 1:17)