Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Last and First

In Luke 24 we have: 
     the last incident of Jesus earthly ministry,
          the last meeting of human need -
 A man who typified all mankind's response to God -
     a thief!
Here is a man fastened to a cross,
     next to another thief, and next to the Savior,
          a man whose freedom is at an end,
               whose days are at an end.

Here is a man awaiting the falling of the final curtain on his life.
     His only possession now is a cross,
          his only tomorrow is the time it takes for life to abandon his body.

The here and now was all he possessed,
and yet, somehow in the midst of his anguish,
he caught a Glimpse of a dimension he had never known.

His eyes were opened, 
     and he saw himself.
          He saw his Lord,
               and he saw a Kingdom.

Somehow this condemned man, rejected by society for his sin,
     and disqualified from a place among the living,
            Saw ...

He saw what the studiously religious Jews around the cross could not see,
     He saw what the disciples who had traveled with Jesus for three years could not see.
          What he saw at that moment,
          not another single person on earth could see.

He alone on that day saw with open eyes a Realm beyond the Visible.
     He alone Understood.

He comes with the simplest of words -
     a confession and a recognition, "Lord."
Other lords had exercised dominion over his life but now he sees only one Lord.
     and to this Lord he surrenders what is left to him - his own free will.
He sees the Lord of a Kingdom,
and he turns from the earthly to that Kingdom.
There is a recognition, and there is a faith.
He no longer seeks anything on earth below;
nothing except that wondrous Kingdom which somehow is made real to him.

The fig tree failed to recognize Jesus - and died.
This man recognized Him and entered into Life beyond all the power of death.

This man was the forerunner of all through the ages have said ... 
                           "Lord ..... remember me."


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Knowing ... Certainty

"That I may know," said the apostle. (Phil. 3.10)

What an infinite world is in these words.
True knowledge is always absolute.
     In as far as we know,
          in as far as we have seen,
                we are beyond the realm of doubt.
"That which we have seen," declares John. (1Jn. 1.7)

Like a man exploring a new continent -
     there may be much territory unseen, unexplored, and unknown,
          but as far as that which has been seen, there can be no doubt.

Paul says also, "we know in part." (1Cor. 13.9)
Paul knew absolutely what he knew,
and yet he also knew that there was much more to be known 
in the realm of God.

The Unknown in God is forever calling
     for us to know,
          for us to experience.
The call of God is to the Infinite,
"To comprehend ... the breadth, and length, and depth, and height." (Eph. 3.18)

The call of God is to the world of the Spirit,
           and only God is seen.

We leave behind the good and the bad of our own lives,
and exchange it all for a total dependency on God.

How much has been said about the safety/covering of the church
as if this were a mechanical thing.
How many have looked to the covering of the church for safety,
     and for the formation of their children -
          only to find out, too late, 
               that the safety of the child of God cannot be in any place outside of God Himself.
If the Everlasting Arms are not what carry us nothing else will avail.

Again: the call is to know ...
     to know the God Who is the Fountain and the Fullness of all.

"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD." says Hosea (6.3)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Have I Tasted?

Psalm 34.8 says:

     "O taste and see that the LORD is good:
          blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."
Have we really tasted?
     As Shakespeare would say:
          "That is the question."

It is possible to come to the things of God,
and to study the things of God and yet not taste those things.
There are famous "defenders of the gospel" who affirm that the only thing we should do as the days of our lives pass by is to study the scriptures.

But there is the Word of God - and there is the God of the Word.
There have been leaders with huge followings,
     who have built a ministry around forming Christians lives 
          through the practical applications of the teachings of the Bible,
               only to find that the Word without the Spirit is dead.
 And to find themselves in their moment of need,
      utterly defeated by the temptations of life.

We can learn of God through the Word, 
but beyond this - we can only know him by the Spirit.

If we were to spend as much time and effort seeking to know God, 
     as we spend studying the Bible, 
          and what men have interpreted of what is written, 
               we would be far, far more spiritual than we are today,
                    and far more useful to the Kingdom of God.

David's word to Solomon was, "my son know thou the God of thy father." 
(1Chron. 28.9)

Listen to the words of Jesus:

"This is life eternal, that they might know Thee." (Jn. 17.3)
Knowledge of God is Life.
     And the increase of our life in God,
          relates to our knowledge of Him.

This is the simplicity of the gospel - hidden from the wise but revealed to babes.
(Mat. 11.25)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Obtaining Deliverance

There is a very simple and yet a very profound story in Matthew 15.

As I try to fathom its lesson for myself, and for us all,
it shocks, and leaves me gasping,
It is the story of the Savior and a woman with a need.

In the story, Jesus, Who had come with a message to the house of Israel,
moves outside the geography of Israel to a gentile nation.

There we read of no ministry except for the story of this woman,
It is as if the purpose for his travel away from Israel 
were only to meet the need of this one woman.
And yet He gives the impression of not having that interest.

There is a piercing Reality in the incident - 
in her moving from a life Destroyed to a life Fulfilled.

She came to find that she lacked qualification.
     She came to Jesus' refusal to hear her petition.
          And yet the intensity of her Love drove her beyond rejection,
and she found a way.
(We speak of intensity, and I wonder if we have the slightest idea what it is.)
She saw in Jesus the Answer, and was willing to do whatever it took and go all the way to reach her answer.

She came all, all alone with her need.
     She came naked of pretenses and ready to admit that she was undeserving.
          She came naked but ready to plead, to cling, to continue, 
until she obtained an answer.

Jesus presented His reason for refusal: 
'I am not sent except to Israel'.
Her reply was not to justify her people, 
but to present herself as one solitary needy child.

It is as if she were saying:
"I don't know about the ministry to the nation, but look on ME.
Look on one who suffers - on one who comes to Thee as her only hope."
"Help ME."

     She came to the One Who hears the cry of the afflicted. (Job. 34.28)
          She came to a promise wider than the limits of the tribes of Israel.               
               She sets herself before Him -
                    as if at that moment she were the only one in creation.

In her coming, it was as if all creation was crying to its Maker;
crying for Mercy. 

Her story is a lesson for life:
     He went to her city with a purpose -
          He found her,
               and she found Him.
She shows us a way - 
     through her faith ,and the intensity of her naked pleading.

     May we not cease until we too, find a need-meeting fullness in Him.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Can I See ... Fulness?

"I saw in the way,
     a light from heaven, 
          above the brightness of the sun." (Acts 26.13)

The life changing intensity of Paul's encounter is reflected in the words:
"above the brightness of the sun."

No earthly light could compare with that Light!
     No earthly experience could compare with the impact of that Encounter.
Paul sees a Realm Unknown,
     meets a Reality which he had never met before.
The experience is cataclysmal, like a lightning strike.

Paul was rendered blind to the world around him after seeing that Light.
This was the moment Paul's allegiance shifted, and his question that day,
     "what wouldst Thou have me to do?"
          marked the course of the rest of his days.
He was forever after obedient to the heavenly vision.
     Forever after it was "this one thing I do." 
          And he did it with every ounce of his energy,
               and every moment of his time.

Things change when we change ...
If we could only find intensity in our spiritual lives everything about us would be different.

How desperately the church of God needs to awake to the failure 
     to take hold of Life, 
          to take hold of God.

Listen to the prophet Isaiah:
"And there is none that calleth upon thy name, 
     that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: 
          for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, 
               because of our iniquities." (Is. 64,7)

 As we make a move toward God, His intensity meets and empowers our own.
     Mediocrity is done away,
          frustrations disappear,
               and life becomes meaningful beyond our dreams.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Taking Hold

We live, and touch two worlds,
     one Real and eternal,  built upon a sure foundation,
          one unreal, built upon passing things.

We live in the midst of death and call it life. 
     We see the entrance to Life and call it death.
      The unreal world robs us of the Real.

When we awake to that Life above there will be no shadows,
     but there is a Call to us, 
          even Now, even Here, 
               to Awake -
"Awake thou that sleepest ... and Christ shall give thee Light." (Eph. 5.14)

This is God's gift to us, 
     Light in the midst of darkness,
          Life in the midst of death,
               the gift of a Life without shadows.

God calls us to a walk of faith.
It is a scary thing to think of a life which is mere emptiness piled upon more emptiness.
It is scary to think of our days following one another - 
     cut off by the advancing hours and falling into the pile of days gone by,
          without any evidence of the fruits of a battle of prayer and faith.

 Samson spoke of losing his God-given gift and becoming "like any other man." (Judges 16.17)
If we lose God in the living of our days, then they too become like any other day in the life of any other man.
     We have a Calling, to Believe, to Possess, to Live.
          Let us leave the passing, and the unreal, and let us chose Life.

Luke says (16.16) The door to the Kingdom of God is open - 
     to those who will press into it.
          God offers - it is for us to possess.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Greater Experience

Maybe we could call the book of Ephesians "The Book of Unveiling."

Here, Paul takes us from the seen to the Unseen,
     from this world to the one above.
And here he shows us Eternal Purposes,
     Eternal Powers, and Eternal Promises.

Here, he opens to us a realm which one day, in heaven, we will see in all its fullness.
Here, his desire is that on earth we may know the riches which are ours in God.
     - "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." 
          "In Whom ... redemption." (1.7) 
               ... "an inheritance." (1.11)
                    ... our trust (1.13)
                         "in whom ... sealed with that holy Spirit of promise" (1.13)

Then, in verses eighteen and nineteen, Paul speaks of his unceasing prayer that God would give them to understand through the Spirit of Revelation:
     1. the hope of the calling,
          2. the riches of the glory of His inheritance,
               3. the greatness of His power. 

Again, there are things that we will only understand in fullness when we reach heaven -and yet Paul's yearning for the saints is a reflection of the yearning
of the Spirit of God over His children.

If we could understand these three things, 
     the Hope, the Inheritance, and the Power, 
          we would have little need for anything else.
Here we would find the answer to all our prayers for a greater knowledge, 
and a greater experience of the things of God.

This is the place of freedom without limit. 
This is where we exchange the earth-bound realm of our human limitations 
for the immeasurable dimension of the kingdom of God.

This is the reason for Paul's unceasing passion of prayer for the saints -
and this is what Paul would pray if he were here with us today.
     that they might Know ...
          that they might taste Life in all its Fullness.