Friday, January 30, 2015

"Just Begun"

    A friend once told me about a preacher who testified, "I retired because I ran out of things to preach about."

    "His understanding is infinite… the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge… the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Psalm 147:5; Ephesians 3:8; 19).

    Preachers may find it necessary to step away from the pulpit for personal reasons, particularly regarding matters of health.  Never, however, do they or can they exhaust the subject matter that originally called them to their ministry.  One wonders whether the man referenced really knew the extent of the Truth he ostensibly communicated - "infinite… beyond knowledge… unsearchable."  Obviously, he didn't, and as one called to communicate the Christ who surpasses all measure of understanding, love, and riches, I find his resignation one of the saddest and most disturbing things I've ever heard.

   In this lifetime, we will barely break surface of God and His Truth.  We know nothing yet as we ought to know declared the Apostle Paul, and the more deeply we dive into the shoreless ocean that is the Lord Jesus Christ, the more we realize the impossibility of reaching the floor of His infinite depths (I Corinthians 8:2).  As the hymn writer beautifully exulted, "His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men, for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again."  This we must believe about our fathomless Lord, first because it is true, and also because limitations of our expectation stifle our capacity for acquiring the growing knowledge and understanding that fills our hearts to overflow again and again and again.  "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

    If our voices and pens are stilled, the silence and the bare page speak not of the Subject, but of our limitation.  We do not "run out of things to preach about."  We rather exhaust our ability to venture more deeply into Ocean that is Christ.  We do well to remember and affirm that in both time and eternity, we will never touch bottom of God and His truth.  

There is no end to the quest we know,
forever beckons on.
For we soar in skies so bright and blue,
above all clouds and 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 wings 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.

"I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:13-14)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee.
(Psalm 143:8)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

“The Who and the What”

    Our memory verse for this week tells us that David sought to know His Lord's "lovingkindness" at the outset of the day, seeking walking wisdom as the fruit of the awareness of God's goodness.

    "Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee" (Psalm 143:8).

    The knowledge of our Heavenly Father's character, nature, and way provides the light that illuminates our path as He works to conform us to the spiritual and moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).  What should I do?  In some manner, the answer lies in another question: "Who is the Lord Jesus?"  "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).  The more we know the "Who?," the more the "What?" will readily be known by the signpost ahead that beckons, "This is the way.  Walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

    Life is relational, particularly regarding God and ourselves.  "I lift up my soul unto Thee" declared the Psalmist regarding his role in hearing Divine lovingkindness and knowing the way "wherein I should walk."  Knowing about our Lord provides the foundation for such communion.  Knowing our Lord Himself, however, builds the walls wherein we live together in such personal fellowship that He continually fills and fulfills us with lovingkindness and subsequent wisdom.  Thus, we prayerfully open our Bibles at the outset of our days, reading with a heart toward listening as the text of Scripture sounds and resounds with the voice of Scripture, namely, the Holy Spirit's personal illumination of the "Who?" that answers the "What?"  

"For with Thee is the fountain of life.  In Thy light shall we see light."
(Psalm 36:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee.
(Psalm 143:8)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"The Holy Place"

(Thanks to Bryan and Peggy for inspiration on this one.)

    A place exists within our spirits wherein only One can enter.  "Thou art God alone" declared the Psalmist to the Occupant who alone serves as the Life of life (Colossians 3:4).  Moreover, King Solomon wrote that "the Lord hath made all things for Himself" (Proverbs 16:4).  This especially includes the humanity originally made in His image so that God could lovingly commune with us like no other of His creations.  Indeed, the Lord made you and me for Himself.

There, there in the holy place,
faith looks to Grace, and sees the Face, 
the only Face
that shines within the heart.

There, there the Spirit and the spirit
dwell as one, a gift given,
given by the Son
as sent from His Father's heart.

There, there we find our cause for being,
as in a holy seeing
we look upon the One
who alone fulfills our needy heart.

There, there in the holy place,
the love of Grace, and love for Grace
sees only One, only one
bright and glorious Heart…

There, there in the holy place.

    God calls us to love many, including friend and foe (John 13:34; Matthew 5:44).  In the depths of our spiritual being, however, we love One "with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30; emphasis added).  A place of loving devotion exists within us where only the Lord can rightly dwell.  All others must be viewed as imposters and idols.  We come forth from this "holy place" to love people, of course, and we love them far more and far better through the love "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  Nevertheless, we shall never love many until we love but One.  This is the enigma of love that resolves into Light and Life as we reserve the depths of our hearts for the Lord who made and redeemed them for Himself.

"He is thy life."
(Deuteronomy 30:20)
"To live is Christ."
(Philippians 1:21)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee.
(Psalm 143:8)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“The Matter of Words” Part 2

    Of all the ways in which we depend on our Lord - "Without Me, ye can do nothing" - none more press us to trust Him than His enabling us to speak in a manner befitting His glory and our benefit.

    "The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8).
    Little wonder that David asked God to "set a watch, o Lord, before my mouth.  Keep the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3).  Words are elemental to our very being, distinguishing us from all other earthly creatures.  Thus, left to the motivations and devices of our fallen flesh, our tongue will poison rather than edify - "In the multitude of words, there wanteth not sin" (Proverbs 10:19).  Note that James' aforementioned warning about words references believers, beginning his treatise with, "My brethren…" (James 3:1).  We must therefore determine to consciously, decisively, and regularly commit our tongue to our Heavenly Father for His taming since we cannot do it in and of ourselves.  

    "Heavenly Father, thank You for this amazing gift of the capacity to speak You gave to us, reflecting so beautifully the truth that we were originally created in Your image.  We thank You also that by Your Spirit, we can utter words in such a manner that they shine forth as "apples of gold, in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).  We acknowledge, however, the danger that lies in our tongue.  How often it's deadly poison has proceeded from the words we have spoken, and how obvious it is that we ourselves cannot tame it.  We acknowledge our sin in much contrition and repentance, and we thank You for Your promised forgiveness and cleansing through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Moreover, we commit our tongue to You in this day for Your watch, Your keeping, and Your enabling to speak in a manner that glorifies our Savior, benefits our sphere of influence, and guides us in love, truth, and righteousness.  We confess our complete dependence, and even more, Your perfect dependability.  May the living Word, the Lord Jesus, flow in life-giving blessedness through our words, Father, as Your Spirit provides both utterance and restraint.  We pray in the name of the Lord Jesus, Amen."

"We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken, we also believe and therefore speak."
(II Corinthians 4:13)
"The tongue of the just is as choice silver… The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom… The tongue of the wise is health… The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright (Proverbs 10:20; 31; 12:18; 15:2)

Monday, January 26, 2015

"The Matter of Words"

    Our words, all of them, bear significant consequence in our lives, and the lives of those around us.

    "In the beginning was the Word… all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1; 3).
    "His Son… upholding all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:2-3).
    "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21).
    "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).

    Little wonder that the Psalmist pleaded, "Set a watch, o Lord, before my mouth.  Keep the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3).  We were made by One referred to as "the Word."  He sustains our  very being.  Our tongue possesses the capacity to kill, or to make alive.  And we shall answer for the words we speak, all of them.  The course of our lives ebbs and flows in accordance with the words in our hearts, and upon our tongues, including our very salvation - "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9-10).  True faith involves both utterance and belief.  "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh… Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" (Luke 6:45; Psalm 107:2).  All this being true, we must make the matter of words a subject of paramount importance in this and in every day.

    I was reminded of this the other day when Frances reminded me that my negative utterances about problems with my smartphone were not in accordance with the Truth I believe, and the Lord I serve.  She chided me very gently, but her challenge penetrated into my heart.  "Every idle word..." declared the Lord Jesus.  "Death and life..." warned Solomon.  "Set a watch… keep the door of my lips" petitioned David.  Our words matter, again, all of them.  No genuine expression of love, faith, praise, and affirmation of God and His truth fails to impart life.  Nor does any complaint, falsehood, innuendo, slander, or disparagement of fellow travelers in a fallen world fall to the ground without harm or consequence.  

    I find these words difficult to write because too often I have found my words divergent from the truth they express.  I must join David, "Set a watch, o Lord… keep the door of my lips."  Just as importantly, "Lord, be merciful to me.  Heal my soul.  For I have sinned against Thee" (Psalm 41:4).  I trust the Lord will faithfully respond to both pleas, and in the matter of words, I very much hope to respond more faithfully respond to His leading and enabling in this and in every day.

"The tongue of the just is as choice silver… the tongue of the wise is health."
(Proverbs 10:20; 12:18)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"The Daily Martyrdom"

    The measure of love, God's love as revealed, received, and returned, involves a simple evaluation and determination.  In love, the Lord Jesus Christ died for us.  In reciprocal love, we die for Him.

    "Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
    "I die daily" (I Corinthians 15:31).
    "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).

    The death the Lord Jesus died for us becomes the death He dies in us as we make the sacrifices of faith whereby we walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh.  "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (II Corinthians 4:10).  A "death" occurs every time we trust and obey God in the power of the Holy Spirit, as referenced by the Apostle Paul's testimony of "daily" offerings.  As the New Testament commands, through the Spirit, we "mortify" (put to death) fleshly pleasure and satisfaction in order to honor and please our Heavenly Father (Romans 8:13).  This is love in its truest sense, the love that led Christ to bear His cross, and the daily martyrdom of love that leads us to bear our own.  "Take up the cross, and follow Me" (Mark 10:21).

    Our sacrifice may involve attitudes, words, actions, possessions, and ways of relating to God and man.  It might even involve our physical life at some point.  Whatever the case, the Lord's love revealed and received always constitutes the cross.  Moreover, resurrection also awaits as the deepest and purest joy imaginable arises within our hearts.  To be loved by God and to love Him in trusting and holy response - we were made for this.  Through the Lord Jesus, our Father establishes and enables our spiritual capacity for such relationship wherein no sacrifice is too great so long as we know and respond to the love of God.

"Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor."
(Ephesians 5:2)
"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us."
(Romans 5:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:5)

Friday, January 23, 2015

"The Island Within"

    If somehow we awoke one morning to find ourselves on a deserted island, alone and with nothing, would the Lord Jesus Christ be adequate to enable peace and provision?

    The contemplation of such a scenario is not easy, nor is it the norm of God's working in our lives.  He intends that we live in the society of people, sharing our lives with others for the purpose of communicating His life to others by example and word.  The question remains, however.  Is Christ enough for the extreme circumstance we reference?  Could He and His presence alone fill and fulfill our hearts in complete solitude?

    "My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:5).

   The truth of the matter is that we do live on that island.  A place exists within every born again believer, reserved solely for the Spirit of the Lord Jesus.  No one else lives there, save He and ourselves.  Indeed, boil the believer down to his or her essence, and that which remains is the Holy Spirit united unto our own spirits.  "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Corinthians 6:17).  In this holy and sublime sense, we could lose everything and everyone without losing anything or anyone.  God and God alone fills and fulfills our hearts.  Certainly He administers such grace through people, and we rightly appreciate and avail ourselves of the lamp of God's light they provide.  Nevertheless, just as light existed in the world before the creation of sun, moon, and stars, Christ alone serves as the Light of our hearts (Genesis 1:3-5; 14-18).  One sun shines upon the island of our hearts, the Son, and as my wife Frances often says, "Having Him, we have all."

   Do we believe this?  Would Christ be enough on that deserted island?  Is He enough for the island within?  He is.  Again, however, do we believe?  We must, first because it is true, and then because we must heed the warning of the Apostle John in the final admonition of his first epistle: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (I John 5:21).  Anything or anyone that we consider to be indispensable other than the Lord Jesus darkens our hearts as a false god.  Our Savior alone, as revealed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, serves as the Light and Life of the island within, where the glory of Christ only, Christ always, Christ forever enlightens our being with the sole illumination of our hearts…

"The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord… Arise, shine, for Thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."
(Proverbs 20:27; Isaiah 60:1)
"Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
(Psalm 42:11).

Weekly Memory Verse
    Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:5)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"The Hope of All"

    Within the span of a few hours today, I spoke to an audience averaging 10 years old, and to another averaging 80.  The former occasion involved a local Christian school, while the latter led me to a retirement community.

    "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14).
    "Even to your old age, I am He" (Psalm 46:4).

    Such an opportunity happens occasionally, and reminds me of the blessed truth and application of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every age and walk of the life.  The message is always the same, whether to the ten year old just embarking on life's journey, or to the octogenarian well into the pilgrimage.  The same Christ applies, as does the Scriptural affirmation of the God whose Truth meets us where and wherever we find ourselves, or more to the point, where God knows we are.  Illustrations differ, of course, and the Christian communicator may utilize a different voice, as it were, depending on the characteristics of his audience.  Still, the truths of Christ resonate in young and old as the Holy Spirit applies the provision of the Lord Jesus to the needs of human hearts.  Indeed, the Gospel is so simple a child can understand it, and so profound the most ardent and experienced believer could never fully grasp its infinite complexity.

    We must have great confidence as we communicate God's truth, confidence not in ourselves, of course, but in the power of His Spirit and His Word.  We operate from strength as we proclaim the Gospel.  The Holy Spirit precedes our sowing of Biblical seeds by tilling the soil of the hearts into which we plant.  He then graces the Scriptures we share with personal application to the hearts of our hearers, again, be they young or old.  Certainly we seek to sound a clear voice that accords with the particular characteristics and capacities of our audience.  Nevertheless, our primary concern is that we faithfully adhere to the Truth as it is, and confidently affirm the Word of God as the hope of the child, the hope of the elder, the hope of all.

    As the old country preacher once declared, "People is people!"  More importantly, God is God.  Our responsibility in sharing the Gospel involves trusting Him to form our message, and then enable delivery of it in precise application to the needs of our hearer.  This applies to preaching and to our personal witness as the Lord sends us to the hearts He loves, and as we discover the pertinence of His truth to all, including to young and to old.

"Old men and children, let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is excellent!  His glory is above the earth and Heaven."
(Psalm 148:12-13)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:5)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

“Christ Or No One"

    Imagine for a moment that the impossible could happen, namely, that we could be convinced that the Bible is not true, and that the God it declares does not exist.  Would you believe in any other God or religious proposition?

    I for one would not.  No other spiritual contention offers a rationale for the confidence that something or someone exists beyond ourselves.  I won't take the time to address specific religions or their messages.  Nor do I mean to be disrespectful to those who devote themselves to other claims about God, or gods.  I would simply affirm that only Christianity, Biblical and authentic Christianity, makes sense in its affirmations of Divinity and Truth.

    Of course, the reason for this is that Biblical and authentic Christianity is true.  Other religious claims, while perhaps borrowing factual realities from God and Scripture in some of their propositions, nevertheless crash and shatter against the rocks of reality.  The more one considers their claims, the more it becomes evident that they do not square with reality.  Conversely, the more one ponders the truths of the Bible in their proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ and God's personal and historical involvement through His Son, the more Truth rings in our hearts and minds.  Having read and studied the Scriptures for nearly four decades, I am more convinced of their veracity in this moment than ever.  The Bible is true.  The Lord Jesus is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  The God of the Bible is the living and true God.  And, in terms of our present consideration, all other gods are false and non-existent.

    The skeptic will accuse me of bias.  This is true.  I am partisan, unashamedly and unapologetically, to the degree that if I could possibly discover that the God of Scripture does not exist, I would entertain no notion of transferring faith to someone or something else.  Bias, however, does not always mean that one is wrong about his or her perspective.  We want to have a bent toward truth and reality.  No serious believer denies the unadulterated declaration of the Lord Jesus, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6).  Nor can any serious believer consider that other options would exist if the impossible could happen.  It is Christ or no one.  It is the Bible, or no Truth.  It is the Way, or no way.  Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.  Our Lord Himself confines us to this conviction of Christ alone, Christ only.  The more we know Him, the more we realize how real He is, and how worthy He is of our undiluted affirmation - Christ or no one.

"I am the Lord and there is none else.  There is no god beside Me."
(Isaiah 45:5)
"Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under Heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved."
(Acts 4:12)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:5)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"An Uncertain Sound"

    While infinite and beyond our full comprehension, God's truth is never irrational.  Moreover, we must never suggest by our words or imply by our actions that it is.
    "As God is true, our word toward you was not yay and nay.  For the Son of God which was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yay and nay" (II Corinthians 1:18-19).

    We must devote ourselves to take much care that our trumpet, as it were, does not give forth an "uncertain sound" of contradiction (I Corinthians 14:8).  Particularly regarding the nature, character, and way of the Christ in whom we trust, the "Who He is" and the "How He works" must coincide with one another.  For example, I once heard a radio minister suggest to his listeners, "We depend on you in order to stay on the air."  I instantly hit the off button of my radio upon hearing this, but I can only surmise that he referred to monetary donations of his audience as the source of continued ministry.  Of course, I could be wrong.  Perhaps he referred to the prayers of those who listen.  Either way, the minister I reference presented an irrational and damaging to his listeners proposal.  Indeed, consider the contradiction: as a Christian communicator, the preacher proclaims that God is able to save the eternal souls of all who depend on the Lord Jesus Christ for their redemption.   However, the preacher also communicates the false notion that he cannot depend upon his Heavenly Father for supplying the means and enabling for ministry.  This is at best irrational.  At worst, it is unbiblical.  "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).  In either case, the trumpet of the preacher sounded forth in contradiction and uncertainty.

   I do not mean to suggest by this example that God does not often administer His provision through the resources and prayers of His trusting children in Christ.  Certainly He does.  "Let him that is taught in the Word communicate (share) unto him that teacheth in all good things… Pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified" (Galatians 6:6; II Thessalonians 3:1).  I do mean to propose that of all believers, the minister of God's Word must never look to anyone other than God as the source of Life in Christ, and also the means to declare the Truth about such grace.  By Biblical definition, we proclaim dependence on Christ and Christ alone.  "My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:5).  Whatever the minister meant, he sent forth a discordant note across the airwaves that suggests irrationality and contradiction in the Gospel.  Again, consider the conflicting claims: "God can meet your eternal needs.  Trust Him.  He cannot meet my temporal needs.  I trust you."  The damage done by such foolishness, even if unintentional, is incalculable in the hearts and minds of those who hear the "uncertain sound."

    Irrationality can infect us in many other ways.  We must therefore inoculate ourselves by filling our hearts and minds with the Truth of God, whereupon "precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line" (Isaiah 28:10)  Proper consideration and study will not yield contradiction in our Lord's truths, nor in our application of them.  A sane, reasoned, and rational understanding of Scripture will rather result, leading to a peace of both heart and mind blessedly experienced internally, and coherent message expressed outwardly.

"Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."
(I Peter 3:15)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:5)

Monday, January 19, 2015


    Our newer readers may note that we frequently send forth a message on Saturdays (this past Saturday being an exception).  I do this despite the fact that technically, I consider the Specials in terms of a Monday through Friday, five day a week schedule.  We began accordingly, but not long after embarking on this journey together with you, I found myself often having subjects milling around in my mind on Saturdays that couldn't seem to wait until Monday (we do not send out messages on Sundays, by the way, primarily in respect to your church involvement, as well as to our busy Sunday schedule in which conduct three services in three different venues spread out over nearly 35 miles).

   I share this with you because I hope the Saturday message represents the Biblical principle of  "more."  

   "If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.   And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain" (Matthew 5:40-41).
   "Having confidence in thy obedience, I wrote unto thee, knowing thou wilt do more than I say" (Philemon 1:21).

    In Christ, the love of God comes to us in a measure, "exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).  As we walk with God by faith, we thus experience a more than expected bounty of His gracious goodness and involvement in our lives.  In the trusting heart, this elicits the desire to do more than expected, more than required.  We do so in response to our Lord's working in our lives, and to honor Him as we joyfully seek to bless others with the blessing we ourselves have received.  In the giving, however, we experience much receiving.  The more we impart, the more our own hearts receive the blessedness known by the God who finds His joyous self-sacrificial giving.  "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).  "More" thus comes to us, flows through us in blessedness to others, and then back to ourselves as we discover the truth of our Lord's words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

    We will never plumb the depths of God's heart of "exceeding, abundantly above."  Such love is lavishly resident in the hearts of all who believe, and is best known as it leads us to our own opportunities to give more than is required and expected.  A long eternity awaits the sons and daughters of God in Christ wherein the "wonders of His love" declared by the carol writer will fill and thrill our hearts in the receiving, but even more in the giving.

"The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
(I Timothy 1:14

Weekly Memory Verse
    Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:5)

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Our Nearest and Dearest"

    God made human beings in His image for the purpose of internal relationship and fellowship with Himself.

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

   Created in His image, we possess the capability of personal association and communication with the Lord in a manner unlike any other being.  This includes angels, who are greater than us in ability and power, but lesser than us in relational capacity.  Scripture never indicates that the Spirit of God indwells the spirits of the angelic host.  He does inhabit us, if we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ.  To the believers of Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Ye are the temple of God… the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (I Corinthians 3:16).

    Our capacity for fellowship with God, profound and available to us as it is, must be exercised if we are to experience its holy potential.  A.W. Tozer once wrote, "We will all know God about as well as we want to."  More to the point, Scripture declares to the children of God, "Ye shall seek Me and find Me when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).  Relating to our Heavenly Father does not just happen.  We must avail ourselves of the means whereby the Lord becomes the person we know best.  To many, this seems impossible because we cannot see, hear, or touch Him.  Remember, however, the internal nature of relationship and fellowship with God.  He alone dwells within the innermost temple of our trusting hearts.  No one else can meet us there.  Thus, the possibility of our Father becoming our nearest and dearest companion can become actuality as we devote ourselves to this most amazing of gifts He gives, namely, the gift of Himself.

    Do we believe in such potential for ourselves?  We must.  Expectation, that is, the anticipation of faith based on the promises of God's Word, has much to do with whether we realize the glory thereof.  The Lord Jesus died to usher us into the living presence of God not merely as a relational reality, but in functional fellowship.  He gave to us His Spirit, His Word, His church, and His dynamic involvement in our lives to enable Heart to heart communion.  There, in the temple of our spirits, we may walk with the Life of our lives in loving and joyful devotion.  Angels desire to look into such wonder (I Peter 1:12).  Let us do more than look.  Let us expect and then experience the glory of a gift that came to us by way of a cost too terrible to imagine - "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?!" (Matthew 27:46).  Yes, in Christ and through His sacrifice, God gives to us the the gift of Himself.  Certainly we must respond, and in this moment, we may commune with our Nearest and Dearest...

"As for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy."
(Psalm 5:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
(Ephesians 5:11)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

“Enlightenment, Encouragement, Exhortation"

    In praying for others and for myself, I often ask our Heavenly Father to "enlighten, encourage, and exhort."

    "I make mention of you in my prayers… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened" (Ephesians 1:15; 17-18).
    "Edify one another" (I Thessalonians 5:11).
    "Exhort one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13).

    First, we must receive growing enlightenment regarding the Lord and His truth.  "In Thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9).  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ births relationship with an infinite God, the glory of whom we shall never fully plumb the depths or ascend to the summit.  "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3).  Growth in both living experience and doctrinal understanding always awaits us.  The Apostle Paul declared that we know nothing yet as we ought to know (I Corinthians 8:2).  Thus, our Father ever seeks to illuminate our hearts more brightly with Himself and His truth.  Moreover, the Apostle Peter calls us to increasing maturity, based on increasing awareness and understanding - "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).

   In the splendor of such intensifying light, we find great encouragement.  "Consider Him... lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3).  A fresh glimpse of the Lord Jesus always builds us up when we see Him more clearly in His Word, or by His Spirit's working in our lives, or in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The consistently encouraged Christian always coincides with the consistently faithful Christian.  We seek the strengthening of each other and ourselves that proceeds from the light of God revealing the person and work of the Lord Jesus.  "Beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 1:20-21).

    Finally, we require challenge.  Scripture ever beckons us to come further, climb higher, dive deeper, and venture outward and away from ourselves unto God and others.  The Lord does not coddle us.  Indeed, at times when we may feel the greatest need for resting on our laurels, as it were, our Heavenly Father may press us to get up and get going.  Such faithfulness results from "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith," and by the challenging remembrance that the Spirit of our Savior equips us for every journey, ascent, dive, and adventure (Hebrews 12:2).  "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48).

    Enlightenment, encouragement, and exhortation - we continually require all three aspects of God's working in our lives as He reveals to us the Lord Jesus, strengthening us for the journey, and commanding that we come further, climb higher, dive deeper, and venture outward and away from ourselves unto God and others.  

"We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more."
(I Thessalonians 4:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
(Ephesians 5:11)