Wednesday, October 31, 2012
(For all who have lost little ones)
There's a heartbeat up in Heaven,
that wasn't there before.
It slipped beyond the bounds of earth
and found an open door...
Into the arms of Jesus,
the One who loves it so.
There's a heartbeat up in Heaven,
I will hear one day, I know.
There's a lovely face in Heaven,
that just arrived, you see.
It looks upon another Face
with joys we can't conceive.
Into the eyes of Jesus,
these eyes gaze evermore.
They see such glorious wonder,
such beauty to explore.
There's a part of me in Heaven,
part of my heart went there
when Jesus came and took you home,
my blessed child so rare.
So in this world I'll miss you,
you will never leave me, love,
Yes, there's a heartbeat up in Heaven,
a new child up above...
My child up above.
(“Little ones to Him belong…”)
“Suffer the little children to come unto Me… for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.”
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Monday, October 29, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Problems in bestowingmercy always originate in problems with receivingmercy. When it seems particularly challenging to forgive offenders, we either forget or do not realize the grace imparted to us regarding our own offences.
The familiar parable of the Lord Jesus Christ regarding the two debtors illustrates this challenging truth:
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt” (Matthew 18:23-30).
The sins of others often loom large in our thinking, while our own sins pale in comparison. This contradicts the Holy Spirit’s witness in our hearts regarding whose sins we should emphasize. No less than the Apostle Paul declared himself to be the “chief” of sinners (I Timothy 1:15). Had Paul actually distrusted and disobeyed God more than all others? Not likely. In his own heart and mind, however, the Apostle rightly perceived the measure and degree of sin. Rather than emphasize the wrongs of others committed against him, the man of God responded to the Lord’s reminders of how much He had forgiven Paul. Thus, his own failures and God’s wondrous mercy loomed large in our dear brother’s heart. When such a sensibility reigns in us, we join Paul in being unlikely to cast others into the debtor’s prison whose deepest and dankest cell we believe ourselves to rightly deserve.
In relative terms, I know very little of the sins of others. On the other hand, I have lived with my own for more than five decades now, experiencing both the internal and external realities of too frequent forays into unbelief and disobedience. Maintaining the focus on that of which I am most aware, namely,myself, places my heart in the proper place of humility toward both God and man. Thereby I find myself far more enabled to bestow upon others the mercy of Christ so abundantly administered to me. Indeed, no human being’s debt toward me begins to compare with the debit forgiven me by our Lord’s wondrous grace. This is the Holy Spirit’s emphasis in each of our hearts, making possible a rich experience of mercy personally received. Upon this basis, we then go forth to share our Lord’s delight in pardoning the guilty…
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christforgave you, so also do ye.”(Colossians 3:13)
Monday, October 22, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24).
Reciprocity characterizes all good and genuine relationship. To paraphrase Solomon's wisdom, 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 _____ ?" Such a sensibility and determination must govern family relationships, friendships, fellowship with other believers, work associations, involvement with neighbors, and even those casual contacts we see in everyday life that are actually not casual at all. Our Heavenly Father ordains our relationships to reveal the person and work of the Lord Jesus in us and by us. Not only do we show ourselves friendly by this devotion to the glory of God. More importantly, we show Himas friendly to our world. We reveal His desire for living and involved relationship with every person as we acknowledge and submit ourselves to the primary purpose of our bonds with people.
How we show ourselves friendly to other rests in our Lord’s wisdom, leading and enabling. Our role involves the acknowledgement of this sublime purpose, and the devotion of ourselves to God and people. We expect our Lord’s leadership, and the power of Christ to enable us to be what people in our sphere of influence need us to be.
"I am yours, Lord, for ______." We do well to consciously affirm this truth regarding every person in our lives. Upon this basis, our Heavenly Father illuminates a path wherein we rejoice in the truth that our relationships are never merely human or casual in their origin and significance. The Divine graces all, as an unseen Third Party involves Himself for the glory and revelation of His Son.
"O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together."
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
When we look to other human beings for the fulfillment and satisfaction of our hearts, we place upon them a pressure to perform they can never fulfill. We also set ourselves up for crushing disappointment and disillusionment. Moreover, we erect an altar to a pagan idol that deceives and distracts us from the living and true God.
“I am thy God… He is thy life… O Lord, Thou art my refuge and my portion (Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 30:20; Psalm 142:5).
Our Lord constituted us as social creatures, purposed to enjoy the presence, fellowship, cooperation and communication of other people. Never, however, did He intend human beings to occupy a place in our hearts that He alone can fulfill. Indeed, when we view someone other than God as “the joy and rejoicing of my heart,” we inadvertently mistake them as being that which only our Lord can be to us (Jeremiah 15:16). Certainly, people can serve as a blessed means ofexpressing His goodness to us, and should be appreciated accordingly. Never, however, can a human being serve as the essence of our heart’s fulfillment. God reserves this singular role for Himself alone. “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Wonderful things happen when we affirm God and God alone as source of our heart’s contentment. First, we respond to Him in the love, worship, reverence and devotion for which He made and redeemed us. We also prepare ourselves for a life of inviolable joy and peace as we rightly confess with the Psalmist, “My expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5). Finally, we begin to truly enjoy people, be it those closest to us, or mere passersby on the pathways of life. Since they no longer hold the key to our heart’s contentment, we can experience the joy known by our Lord. He finds His joy and peace in Himself, and thus remains who and what He is regardless of the actions and reactions of others. We also find our joy and peace in Him, and while others certainly influence us, they do not determine us. God does, and for life, contentment, fulfillment, tranquility and purpose, we joyfully exult with the Psalmist…
“O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips.” (Psalm 63:1-5)
Monday, October 15, 2012
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Thursday, October 11, 2012
We are blessed to have as a regular attendee in one of the services at the retirement community where we minister, the first pastor of a large Baptist church in our city.
“Pastor Norman,” as we call him, served for more than two decades in his capacity at the church, before moving to another venue of service in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He’s 94 years old now, and still very sharp of mind, and even more, of heart. The following will confirm.
Most mornings, during my daily walk, I pass by the church where Pastor Norman ministered. I mentioned this in our service yesterday, commending our dear brother for his faithful service to the Lord and to His people. Pastor Norman’s immediate response: “The Lord did it!” He said this with much seriousness and in no uncertain terms, making sure that all glory rightly directed upward and away from himself. “Let he that glorieth, glory in the Lord” (II Corinthians 10:17 ).
Of course, our previous respect for Pastor Norman increased all the more in our hearts. I did comment, however, that Pastor Norman had responded to the Lord’s working in order to serve as a means by which God’s will was fulfilled in his own life, and encouraged in the lives of others. As the Apostle Paul was “not disobedient to the heavenly vision,” so did Pastor Norman follow the path paved for him by the Holy Spirit (Acts 26:19). The Lord Jesus receives all the honor and credit for our dear friend’s ministry, but we nevertheless affirm the faith and submission to God that characterizes Pastor Norman’s life and service.
The New Testament frequently speaks of rewards to be administered for the works of believers motivated and enabled by the Holy Spirit.
“Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” (I Corinthians 3:8).
In this statement, the Apostle Paul references not our salvation, which the New Testament categorically reveals to be a free gift of God’s grace in Christ (Romans 5:15-18). He rather speaks to the issue of our response to the Lord’s abundant working upon us, and within us. Believers are not programmed automatons, but rather spiritually enlivened sons and daughters in Christ who may or may not respond positively to the Holy Spirit’s moving and motivations. At the judgment seat of Christ, we will be either rewarded or “suffer loss,” based on how faithfully we applied ourselves to the freely given grace of God (I Corinthians 3:15). Our works will be judged, resulting in commendation or approbation in that Day when, with glorified sensibilities, the honor of the Lord Jesus will mean more to us than ever.
Pastor Norman serves as a blessed example of faithfulness to God, and to the people he served. All glory belongs to the Lord Jesus, of course. Nevertheless, we hold our brother in great respect, and we remember and rejoice in his devotion. “The Lord did it!” No doubt, Pastor. But you trusted and submitted yourself to him, and we are the blessed beneficiaries of a faithful God, and the faithful son you are.
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”(I Peter 5:2-4)
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
A Christ-secured and sealed salvation makes possible a relationship with God based on assurance rather than uncertainty.
“I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (II Timothy 1:12).
A significant aspect of confidence in God involves confidence in the relationship He provides to us through the Lord Jesus. We approach our Heavenly Father always and only by the person and work of His Son, as led and enabled by the Holy Spirit. While our performance in the relationship certainly affects the consistency of our response to God, never do we come to Him through our own merits.
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-22).
So long as we come to God with a humble and trusting heart in the Lord Jesus, we may always come. It matters not how faithful we perceive ourselves to have been in the relationship, or how faithless. We “enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us.” The born again believer who increasingly recognizes this singular way of grace will find himself far more likely to avail himself of the bond with God that elicits growth in godliness and faithfulness. The Lord Jesus originated our relationship with our Heavenly Father, He maintains it, and He calls us to have much confidence in our access to the very heart of God. “We have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him” (Ephesians3:12).
We all find ourselves at times having failed to avail ourselves of the amazing gift of communion with our Lord. The temptation is great to believe that our failure to relate to Him in the past disqualifies us from communication in the present. Nothing could be further from the truth. So long as we come with a heart that trusts in Christ alone for our access, we may come. Those things that need to take place once we arrive at the throne of God will be addressed, of course, and we recognize our need for correction. Most importantly, however, we do not fail to come, and we do not fail to rejoice in the gift of relationship with God. It is a gift. It is always a gift, and with the hymnist, we joyfully and forever make our approach through Christ…
“Nothing in my hands I bring, only to Thy cross I cling!”
“Through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”(Ephesians 2:18)
Monday, October 8, 2012
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Friday, October 5, 2012
(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 29 – “Why Is God?”
Having addressed the What, Who, Where and When of God, we conclude our series by raising the question, “Why is God?” Or, more literally, “why does God exist?” Does the Lord have a reason for being?
The answer is no. God exists as an uncaused reality, the only such reality in existence. No one, including Himself, willed Him to be in order to fulfill some purpose, or meet some need or desire. God simply is - “From everlasting to everlasting, “Thou art God” (Psalm 90:2). Thus, the question, “Why is God?” cannot be logically asked or answered due to the eternality of His existence.
The primary implication of this truth promotes a keen sense of wonder and fascination regarding our Lord. There is no one and nothing like Him in the sense of His primary existence and being. “Thou art God alone” (Psalm 86:10). Of course, the human race was originally created in His image, and born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are being progressively conformed to His spiritual and moral likeness (Genesis 1:26; Romans 8:29). However, this speaks not to the issue of being, but rather of character, nature and way. Salvation in Christ ultimately produces sons and daughters who think, speak, act and relate like their Heavenly Father. Nevertheless, God’s uncaused existence remains unique to Him, and the more we become like Him, the more the truth of “Thou art God alone” fills our being with bright and illuminating light.
“Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Our Lord’s apparent misapplication of tenses in His identification of Himself actually speaks to His transcendence of time and space. We worship a God who draws nearer to us than our next breath through Christ, but who forever remains other than we are in His substance and being. Both truths are necessary in our proper understanding of God, and in our attempts to rightly relate to Him. Indeed, the same Apostle John who once laid his head on the chest of the Lord Jesus also fell at His feet as dead when seeing the Savior in glory (John13:25; Revelation 1:17).
God is both imminent and transcendent to us. His uncaused existence provides the cause for our own. We may not fully understand such mystery, nor is it necessary that we do so. It is only necessary that we believe and submit ourselves to a Father whose very existence we cannot fathom, but whose heart we can know more intimately than we know any other. The ancients referred to Him as “the Beyond in the midst.” We can do no better, and we close our consideration in the hopes that these “Wonderings” have encouraged the awareness that no other subject offers the potential for rapt awe and thrilling fascination than the fact of God. Our minds and hearts were made for such discovery, and may the Holy Spirit lead us ever on in our eternal exploration of the fact of God.
“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 6:15-16)