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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

God in the Valley of Death - and Life




"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." (Ps. 23.4)

Behind every shadow there is a substance,

     and in the Valley of the Shadow there is death.

Somehow, as with the healing power in Peter's shadow,
     the shadow itself has power.
The Shadow of Death also transmits a portion of death and destruction.
     All shadow blocks out the light of the sun,
          and transmits a colder measure of darkness.

Where there is life there are shadows -
     and valleys are an experience common to all men.
Today we live in a shadowed world
     and the shadow is the same - death.
     It is a shadow which threatens all kinds of disorder and chaos.
          a shadow which threatens unknown calamity.
                The shadow would shut down life as we know it,
                      and fasten a portion of death on our days.

We like the comfort of Psalm 23
     but we need to see that the highest point of the Psalm
          is in the Valley of Death -

               In the Valley of Death there is Life.
          It is here that the psalmist finds the Presence of God
               and declares "Thou art with me."
(vs.4)

The Shepherd leads and provides in the first three verses,
     but He is closer in the valley,
          and it is here His sheep find something more than food.

               It is here we find God closer than the shadow. 

It is in the valley alone the palmist speaks of Comfort.
 

I can't explain Comfort - it goes beyond words.
    It is rest and renewal and security and Life.
        It is the absence of hurt, and pain, and all that may destroy.
            It is the flow of a New Life, fresh from the hand of God.


    Here in the midst of death God comes to and abides with His Own.
              
                        Here is Heaven begun on earth.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Life amidst the Death



"Thou wilt show me the path of life." (Ps. 21.4)


The sun is setting on a time of purpose - and anarchy is loosed.
Those who observe society see the end of an age and a setting sun.

We live at a turning point in our civilization.
     No one has the answer for the avalanche of change.

The common purpose and common values which unite a people, a nation, has been lost.
     In its place we have a mistaken affirmation on the individual's "rights" 

     and "freedom."
          Instead of us owing something to the world of mankind around us
               we feel that the world owes us happiness and fulfillment.

It would seem that the ones who should discern the situation and guide,
     the pastors and the politicians,
     are the only ones who are mistaking the sunset for the sunrise -
     proclaiming that greater and better things are just around the corner.
These are the ones unable or unwilling to free their minds from yesterday's world and accept the fact that we will never go back to the world of yesterday.

There cannot be a simplistic, triumphal mindset which would lead us to believe
that we will be untouched by that which surrounds us.
     There will be difficult days of uncertainty and shadow around -
          days unlike what we have experienced in time past.

We can't take lightly a scripture like Psalm 91 and use it as a talisman,
as though the mere repetition of Scripture has spiritual value to save.
     There will be times in which faith will be tested
     and only a real faith and communion with God will see us through in victory.

In the midst of all the darkness and confusion, the last word is God's.
     Fear and destruction are not the portion of those born of God.

In the lives of those who lay hold of God and His Word the enemy cannot prevail

      -There is "another King, one Jesus." (Acts 17.7)

This is the bedrock on which God builds.
     This is what God would show us.
          God Himself is the Way.
               God Himself is the Path of Life.

God always bears His own through the storm.


                 "Ye have seen ... how I bare you on eagles' wings, 

                  and brought you unto Myself." (Exo. 19.4)

Friday, September 4, 2020

Asking for Life



Psalm 21.4 "He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it him."
    What a  statement -

     so concise,
          so worth looking at with attention.

We place things in our lives in the order of their importance to us,
    and yet somehow we do not give much attention to discovering what life itself is.

     What is it that God sets before us as we travel through the years?
     How do the Earthly and the Heavenly realms meet and interact?

When we leave this earth and the things of this earth behind us,
    then what will we take with us?
The easy answer is to say that we take nothing with us,
    but in reality we take much with us.

All the days and hours of our lives are slots of time. 

These we fill one way or another, with things which we will carry with us when we leave.
There are things we have done,
    there are longings of our heart,

          there are things "which we have heard, 
               which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, 
                    and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." (1 Jn.1.1)

These are the measures of revelation, to which our response will be rewarded or judged, in that Sphere beyond the one we now inhabit.

David "asked life" - only God can give it, because only God is the Author.
    Only God can give it, because that Life is beyond the reach of man.
The wisest man who ever lived expressed his frustration in searching through all of human experience.
    Finally finding that ultimate satisfaction was to be found nowhere he

declared "all is vanity." (Ecc. 12.8)

Life is given to those who seek,
    those who are not held by the things which hold most men,
        the fears, and  the formulas which surround us all.


Life is found when we realize that leaving our own world is essential 
if we are to find the world of God. 

That which is not Life is Death,
and the question is, 'how much Life do we carry with us'?

Yes, Life is given freely to all who value and seek it.
     Paul says in Philippians 3.7: "What things were gain to me, those I   
counted loss for Christ."
          Jesus said, "Seek and ye shall find." (Mat.7.7)




































Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Taken Away



In Matthew 25.29 we have a man losing all that was given him -
     losing, due to the simple fact that he had not used it,
          losing because fear had tied his hands,
              losing for lack of faith in the possibility of increase.

This passage comes near the end of Jesus' ministry,
    a time of leaving last words of guidance to His followers.
It is the answer to the question:
    "what is wisdom and what is foolishness?"

This whole chapter speaks of the kingdom of heaven.
    Its application is for our lives.
        What is at stake is the kingdom of God within us.

Today, the kingdom of God can be, and is, taken from many.
And we can so easily lose what we have - what has been given us,
not merely by sin but:
    

by trying to hold on to the past -
    holding to a belief that God has withdrawn Himself from active working in our midst ...
    "The Bible is complete and God no longer works in His people as of old".


or by holding on to something future -
        "There is coming a great, earthshaking manifestation of God ... tomorrow".

Faith does not seem to extend to the working of the Spirit of God in His power in our midst today.
    Rather, today seems to be a stagnant period,
        of either looking back and waiting for the end of life here below,

             or waiting for a future which is a fruit of our imagination.

So much of today's "teaching" is only a defence of what needs no defending.


So much of today's prophetic message excuses the reality that God is not in the midst right now.

In our childish reasoning, and ramblings, we lose out on Infinite Life;
     on infinite promises of infinite possibility.
But the weight of spiritual things in our time is more real than all our deliriums.

Can we awake, and cry for a Light that will illuminate all our existence?
     Can we cry until the darkness surrenders, 

          and God shows us that kingdom which is BEYOND it all?

There is all to gain - and there is all to lose.

The Author of our faith will be the Finisher of our faith, if we cease to depend on any other thing and trust the One Who will guide into All Truth. (Jn. 16.13)

               This is God's promise - this is our Certainty.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

"GO ... OUT"



In Mathew 25...... we have the story of the ten virgins.
    It is a story of preparedness and unpreparedness
        a story of oil and light,
            a story of a coming bridegroom.

Today there is one little phrase which jumps out in the passage:
    "Go ye out to meet Him."

And in the phrase one word which calls:
    the word "out."

It seems a word sadly forsaken in our times,
    a truth so central to the gospel,
        a truth so uncompromising.

If we would meet God we must go out.
    Out from all the things with which we are surrounded ...
        Out from things external and from things internal.

We must leave behind all our earthly knowledge to find a way in the realm of the Spirit.
    When we go to Him we cannot carry with us the bondage of any human   understanding -
    none of the things which man's ingenuity has "interpreted" of how the things of God,
    and the Word of God, really are.

We can carry no weight of earth's traditions, nor doctrines.
    God is far beyond all of this.
        We can carry none of the besetting sins,
            nor of "besetting ambitions" for ourselves.


It is a going out beyond our doubts and fears and ambitions.

Everything must be laid down if we are to go "out."
    Our eyes must be on God ALONE.
        Our hearts must be set on God ALONE.
            All the hopes and yearnings of our lives must be only for Him.

For those who seek Him thus,
    there is a Meeting,
        there is an Encounter,
            there is a wedding and rejoicing.
           
            If we catch the merest glimpse of the overwhelming glory of God,
            If we would see for an instant His Presence,
            then all other things would seem so tawdry,
            and utterly unworthy of our attention.
            And we would walk all our days in the glory of that revelation.
           
            As Jesus "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Lk. 9.51)
                    Let us turn from all else,

                         let us set our faces, 
                              to go out to meet Him.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

QUARANTINED IN DARKNESS - WITHOUT REVELATION



The Bible starts with two opposites:
     God and Nothingness .


We find there a God greater than Emptiness,
     a God Who creates Substance and Light.

There is a parallel here to the work of God in the lives of His own.
     The New Creation has its reflection in the Old Creation.

But while the Old physical creation was gloriously completed, 
     with the sole utterance of God's command.
          the spiritual creation is a joint work, 
               where man's will collaborates with God.
 

Sadly, so many times the New creation does not reach completion.

So where are lives stagnated ...quarantined?
I think I know where...
     it is in the second verse of the Bible.

It is in that period of waiting before God moved again -
     that time when the earth was "without form and void, and darkness was..."
          that time of waiting -
               that place where nothing changes.
                    that place where God's New Creation is not complete.

It is a place where all is 'without form.'
The "shape" of purpose is absent,
The blueprint for the future is as yet unseen.

There is a 'void'.
There are no elements to build upon.

There is 'darkness' which man alone cannot penetrate.
There is no creation to be had - because there is no vision of a creation..

Here we find the Pain of lives stranded in that emptiness, unformed.
     Lives without substance or meaning.          

          lives which add nothing to the kingdom of God.

But God spoke ...and there was Light.
Is there any way of showing the impact of light in darkness?
     God's Light - "like the light of a million mornings."

It is the heart longing of the Children of Light -
     the sons of the God Who is the True Light.
It is the revelation of a realm unknown -
     a place where nothing is covered and hidden.
A freedom which bursts with Life.
     A place which is limitless because Light is limitless.

This is the Purpose of God's creation for His creatures -
formed of the dust but bearing His likeness;
     a world without limits,
          a Life beyond all our measures.


                  It is the place where we are Satisfied,

        because we begin to find the completeness of God's creation,
                  in every tiniest part of our existence.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Quarantine - a Waiting in Mercy, a Time to Repent?


1 Chronicles 12.32  speaks of men who knew, who discerned.

There are things we can only truly know by the Spirit -
truth known in a realm beyond emotion, instinct or thought.

If we are not illuminated by the Spirit of God, 

we are inevitably mistaken in our judgement of the world around us. 

We live amidst a profusion of voices.

     We cannot know the times in which we live, 
          if we only depend on others who profess to hear.
We cannot trust any voice except that which comes to us from God.

I hear so many affirmations of the great work which God is about to do in the not too distant future, and I am disturbed.
     What is the measure of our searching, 

          our surrender and our obedience to God?
Is what we hear about us "revelation" or is it not much more than fanciful thinking?

We always think that there is a tomorrow when things will be again as they are today - or perhaps better.
     Maybe we need to ask the basic question, will there even be a tomorrow as 

          we imagine?

Voices from the past are stilled:
     for years God has had His messengers preaching words of warning -
          I think of David Wilkerson and my father pouring out their heart's     

          in a burning cry.
But that time is past.

After Noah had preached righteousness and built the ark for one hundred and twenty years.,
God brought judgement to the earth.
The ark was finished ... but God waited seven more days before the door was closed.


Heb 3:15 says: "To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."
There had been one hundred and twenty years of Noah's preaching righteousness,
and yet after all these years God gave yet seven more days for mercy, for repentance.

I wonder if we are not in the time of the "seven days";
I wonder if this time of quarantine is not a time in which God still waits
- waits for our response before pouring out destruction.
I wonder if time is more advanced than we think.
I wonder if our way of life is at an end, except for the short days of mercy.

The verse of Hebrews 3.15 comes to mind:
"To day if ye will hear his voice,
harden not your hearts, as in the provocation."
Mercy calls us, and God awaits our reaction.

"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." (Ps. 25.14)
     Do we fear Him?
          Do we know His secret?

God's ear is ever open to the cries of His own and they will not be forsaken.
     Let us fear God alone,
          and let us seek God alone.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Rest



If there is one thing which characterizes our human world it is the absence of rest.
 

There is a painting which shows a seashore in the midst of a storm.
     There, among the crashing waves, is a great rock
          and in the cranny of the rock a little bird sitting upon its nest...
               at rest, unafraid and unaffected by the crash of the elements.

How easily the world impinges upon the lives of mankind.
     How easily the problems of the world outside become our own.
          How easily we lose our peace in the storm.

A song says:
     "There is no life - no life without its hunger;
     Each restless heart beats so imperfectly."
It is true in the imperfection of our lives,
and in an imperfect world there is no security - no rest.

Revelation 6.4 speaks of peace being taken from the earth .
     Does that seem to be what is unleashed in a measure even now?
          Where do we go when there is nowhere to go?

Jesus in John 16,22 speaks of joy which no man may take away.

It is a part of the world which God opens to His own -
     where peace, assurance and rest are ever-flowing.

Hebrews 4.11 says, "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest."
There is a rest which is beyond anything which this earth can touch,
but it is not a superficial, automatic thing.
     It is reached at the end of a pathway of searching.
          It is found beyond the limits of our own strength and understanding.

              As we, with all our strength, 

              take hold of God alone,
              we will find in Him 
              a perfect peace - a perfect rest which is not of this earth.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Following to a Destiny



Abraham, spent his life searching.

We hear much about his travels and trials,
    and the years of his pilgrimage.
We hear about his encounters with God,
    and we draw our lessons from them.

What we don't seem to hear much about is the final end of Abraham's search -
    the thing that motivated him to leave the wealth and comfort of Ur
.

What was it that caused Abraham,
    like a migrating bird leaving its nest,
        to uproot his home and step out into the unknown?

In Hebrews 11.8 we read that:
    he had a Call,
        he had Promise ... a land to inherit.
Above all He had a Vision of a City not of earth,
    a city built and fashioned by God.

Abraham's journey was not so much from Ur to Canaan,
    as it was from Earth to Heaven,
        from the seen to the Unseen,
            from the temporal to the Eternal,
                from the dwellings of man to the dwelling of God.

This, says Hebrews, was what he sought.
    He sought through the days, months and years in which he was a pilgrim.
        Even when he reached the promised land he dwelt there as a stranger.
For him there was no settled place of rest.
    For him all of earth was but another step in the journey to a better land.

It is easy to lose sight of the preeminence of the spiritual element in the lives of the men of the Bible -
    easy to see the revelations and events of their lives,
        their meetings with God and their faith
            to see things brought to pass.
But it is hard to see beyond all the earthly realm of their existence,
    and to somehow capture in our spirits what they felt burning as a vision within.

Enoch "walked with God." (Gen. 5.22)
    Abraham was called "the Friend of God" (Jas. 2.23)
        And on through the Old Testament God's servants saw Him above all earthly things.
        Their earthly journey only had value in as much as it related to the Heavenly.

As time passes and darkness descends upon our generation
    the need is ever more imperative for the children of God to look
        beyond the cloudy realms of earth to the Ever-Shining Light.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Darkness and Light.


Job cries:
"Where is the way where light dwelleth?
and as for darkness, where is the place thereof?" (Job 38.19)

When God created the world the first thing He put in place was light.
When man sinned he lost his inner spiritual light, and entered into a world of darkness.
    And ever since that fatal day man walks with uncertain steps,
        surrounded by the depths of darkness.

Job's cry is the cry of every seeking soul of man,
    a cry for sight, for clarity,
        for the sureness of the knowledge ,which only sight can give.
God's work in the lives of His own parallels His work in the physical creation.
    He is Light, and His promise to His own is that they
        "shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (Jn. 8.12)

Just as we advance from faith to faith
    so also is there an advancing from light to light.
It is a sad fact that throughout the church of God there are so many,
    in whose lives, in whose experience, there is so little light.

If we are to find God in the dimension which He desires to show us, Job's cry must find an echo in our hearts...
    "Where is the way?"
        "Where is the Light?'
When man sinned he lost his inner spiritual light, and entered into a world of darkness.
    Since that fatal day man walks with uncertain steps,
        surrounded by the depths of darkness.

It is a wondrous thing when Light fills the being within,
    and a wondrous thing when that Light finds an open door
        allowing it to flow out to this world around.

God does not want for us to be
"A garden inclosed ... a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." (Sngs 4.12)

When He does His work of enlightening within,
and opens the life's doors, then all is changed.

Here is Life in abundance within and without.
    Here is our ministry, to Him and to others.
        There is no other way.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Awake ... Take Hold





Can we see what is going on around us? 
     There are so many voices.
          There are so many explanations,
          so many dreams, "revelations" and "prophecies."

There is so much talk that is superficial,
     so much that is trivial.
The unchangeable purposes and workings of God
     seem somehow to have been lost in the search for "relevance"
     and immediacy
So much seems to be about "communication" -
     only seeking a response from the hearers,
          the "method" has usurped the "message" 
          and the Voice has been lost.

The blind are unaware when their leader is also blind. 
The Voice in the desert proclaiming the Unchangeable is hardly heard among us.
The Word  has been replaced by the media as we look for meaning.

Some may be satisfied in hearing and talking about the superficial or the trivial.
Some may be like the Athenians ever searching for some new thing,
     but others, in sincerity, are searching for answers,
          and unsatisfied, search on to find a meaning for this hour.
 

Jeremiah laments, (2.13) "my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Isaiah declares (64.7) "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."
     This the failing today -
     a forsaking of that which is living,
     and a digging that which is flawed

Lay hold on Life - it is not an easy thing, nor passive...(we are accustomed to think it is...)
     It is about waking up from our sleep.
     It is about Faith.
     It is about taking hold the One we Know.
     It is about looking unto Him.
"O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee?" (Ps.89.8)

In these uncertain times, "God is our Refuge,"
     our Strength, our Hiding Place, our Life, our Peace,
          and looking unto Him we are changed.
Then, with clear vision, the earthly is transcended
     and the sure abode of the heavenly is known -
          earth's uncertainties are replaced by heaven's certainties.
              The shaking and fears of earth are swallowed up 
                   in the Unchangeable Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Today - an Ending and a Beginning


Our minds play tricks with us -
we see something and isolate the parts we like,
and ignore the rest of the context.

When we apply this approach to scripture we easily lose meaning and purpose. 

Isaiah's picture of the desert transformed (Is. 35) is beautiful, 
But it is easy to ignore the preceding chapter which tells us when the desert will be transformed.
It is easy to forget that the transformation will be after the "day of the Lord's vengeance." (34.8)

It is easy to forget that "all her princes shall be nothing." (34.12)
     The rulers and  the leaders will be incapable of leadership.
It is easy to forget that the palaces and fortresses shall be forsaken. (34.13)
     The places of the government will be void of meaning, of resource.

It is easy to forget that all man built society is collapsed when God comes.
It is easy to refuse to look around ourselves and ask if at this present time 
this is not the state of the world in which we live?

How bad do things have to get before we realize the events around us 
are not  merely a speed bump on the highway of life?
     We hear that "All these things will soon be over and life will resume?" ...   
     Really?
          God told you that? ...Really?
               Really ... when governments, churches and individuals are bent on
               leaving God behind, or trying to "contemporise" Him?
How much more has to collapse before we realize that we are incapable,
     and only God has the answers?
          How much longer until we come to the end of our striving to make it 
          all work?

In Chapter 35.1 Starts with the desert,
     the empty places where only the beasts are found -
          the earth as it was before man was ever created.

It is to this place God comes -
this place to which man's own governance has finally brought him.
     "The wilderness...the solitary place...and the desert,"
     three similar terms express the death and the emptiness.
          Gladness, rejoicing and blossom in the same verse -
          three expressions of response toward God.

Verse 2 is an amplification of verse 1 -abundant blossom ... joy and singing
... glory.
     Man has no more place, God Himself is taking over.
          Transformation is now the rule of the desert.
               "Old things are passed away;
                    ... all things are become new." (2Cor 5.17)

The rest of the chapter enlarges this theme -
the things that take place when God comes and controls.

And the chapter ends with a highway through the desert.
The desert gloriously transformed is the mere scenery, 
through which God has built a road,
to the city of God - the place where God Himself dwells with His own.

Here, with overflowing joy, His own return to restoration, -
"joy and happiness in their grasp now."
     They return to the place where the Presence of God is in the midst,
     and the joy is everlasting.




 

Monday, June 22, 2020

"I Believe God"


"I believe God." (Acts 27.25)

Faith is the first thing we bring in our recognition of God.
We could say that faith is the only essential thing in our recognition.

If we have faith all else will come under its shadow.
     When we truly Believe we will surrender,
          we will see the pathway of obedience,
               we will find the way of love,
                    indeed we will find opened to us all the paths of Life.

Paul's experience in the storm is such a picture of life.
He was on a journey, with a God ordained purpose.
     A ship was found, and wind to carry it.
And yet the unforeseen took over and battered all plans
     until all was lost and even life was seen to be at an end.
"All hope"... how absolute ... 
     "all hope that we should be saved was taken away."

How it shows life's processes:
man alone cannot prevail,
our hopes and resources are shredded by reality.
The spiritual lies beyond the natural,
and nothing changes until all hope is gone.

God's message came to Paul, and he said to the sailors,
"wherefore" - because of this, "be of good cheer."

And Paul furthered his explanation saying
"I believe God, that it shall be."

This is always the secret.
     We are always safe in the Word of God.
Faith in that which God has spoken always makes a way,
     through all the storms,
          through all the darkness,
               through all the need, 
                    and through all the fears.

God had spoken before the journey ever began,
"Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Acts 23.11)
     Now Paul repeated the words to those around him, "be of good cheer."

What a picture - "Paul stood forth in the midst of them" -
     stood to proclaim in the midst of the winds and the waves,
          stood to proclaim when all others had abandoned hope.
How the words must have filled the space, "I BELIEVE GOD."
     The waves had no more power to destroy for God had ordained otherwise.
     All ship and cargo may be lost but not one life. 

God is the giver of life, and the enemy cannot take it from God's children.
     "My times are in Thy hand" ...says Psalm 31.13.
          All our times...all the things which make up our lives,
               are secure in His keeping.

               And God will bring us also, safe through the storm.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

"I Will Restore"


Darkness is descending around us like a hurricane 
     and all stability is shaken.
Societies around the world seek to move forward,
     while the past rises up to remind of all that has been lost.
Lost not only all around us, but also in our own lives -
     there are things now forever beyond our reach. 
Day dreams and self-generated optimism never stand up in the light of reality.
     We need to hear the  voice of God.

The voice of God created the worlds,
and everything which exists owes its origin to the same Source.

In our lives, not only in our spiritual birth, but in our daily existence, 
we depend upon the Word of God for our quickening.

In Joel 2.25 God says, "I will restore to you the years."
There is something here which brings a speechless amazement.
The declaration jumps beyond the workings of our mind,
and impacts in the deeper realms where life itself is found.

Restoration is impossible in the sphere of time.
That which has been swallowed up by the passing years can return no more.
     But when God speaks creation takes place -
     blind eyes are made to see,
     the deaf hear, and the weak are made strong.
When God speaks there is not just an influx of life, 
but there is a true bringing again of what time has consumed.

How far does this promise reach?
Can God restore us to the highest point in our past? 
Can He restore us to the heaven ordained possibilities of our lives?

God renews and recreates that which has been lost. 
He sets before us every passing day a new world of possibilities as infinite as Himself. 

Restoration has been the need of all mankind ever since man's loss in the garden of Eden.
Decadence has been the journey of men and nations.
"All decays and nothing is forever," -
and yet ... God is forever,
and His plan and His power are forever.

He can reach into the past and bring again,
just as surely as He brought Lazarus from the tomb -
so with each human life,
so with each of His children.  

At the end of time there will be a new creation -
New Heavens and a New Earth.
But for us, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: 
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2Cor. 5.17)
The God of Time and Eternity is able to bring us to a new world even now.

     At this time, this juncture of history: 
                           May God's Life be restored as our life,
                           May God's Light be restored as our light.

          May we walk in a sure Path through the surrounding darkness.




Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Nothing?


"Is it Nothing to you?"

Just one little phrase in the almost forgotten little book of Lamentations -
the lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah
living in the time of God's rejection 
of those who were called to be His people.

It is a book of pain and pathos,
a book written in the presence of unutterable and immeasurable  loss.

"Is it Nothing?"
     This is the cry of Jerusalem, 
          the cry of Jeremiah, 
               the cry of God.

From the depths of hurt, and pain, the cry is to those who are passing by -
     those who are oblivious to the desolation -
          going somewhere, doing something, important to them.

Maybe the state of the world, and perhaps of the church,
     could be summed up in one word: Unawareness.

It is easy to say, "we see" as the Jews did in Jesus' day.
Yet it is possible to be as unaware of blindness as was the church at Laodicea.

It is possible to be as unaware as the Jews, and their priests, 
when they mocked the One Who was separated from God on the cross,
bearing the depths of the pain of their separation from God.

Both the Old and the New Testaments speak much of sight and of light,
but also both Testaments speak of blindness and darkness.

There is nothing so tragic as a person who is unaware -
     the blind man traveling through a world which is hidden to him,
          or the deaf man surrounded by sounds whose significance he cannot perceive.

Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind, "to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death." (Luk. 1.79)
    This is the gift of Awareness.
          Here is to be found the answer the question, "is it nothing?"  

This is where with open eyes we can see what God shows, 
     and feel the pulse of His heart.

Here that which was "nothing" to us,  
     becomes "everything" to us.
          And we Live because we See.



 

Monday, June 1, 2020

What is the Message?


As the years go by I am finding more and more how different passages of Scripture parallel each other -
seeing how they reinforce and amplify the message they repeat.

I am thinking now of the book of Genesis and the book of Malachi;
the first and the last books of the Old Testament.

In Genesis we have God alone,
     creating a perfect world,
          only to see that creation marred as Adam disobeyed.
We see Adam then, overcome with Fear at the Presence of God,
facing the consequence of his sin.

In Malachi we have God once again drawing close to mankind
and speaking -
     but this time we see man,
          not fearful in recognition of his guilt,
               but taking upon himself to argue with God.
What a contrast is there.

Centuries of history, and many generations have elapsed since Adam,
     and now man, distant from God,
          satisfied in his own slovenly adherence to his religious concepts,
               dares to argue with the Almighty.

Seven times in the book man throws God's words back on Him 
     asking God "why" He should say what He says,
          inferring that man is right and God is wrong.

I wonder how God sees us all today?
Maybe the book of Revelation provides another similar passage -
     God coming to the church of Laodicea, 
"wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,"(Rev.3.17)
     but all the while affirming her wealth and sufficiency.

I wonder how do we see God?
Do we tremble as Adam?
Or do we take God for granted as the generation of Malachi,
or of Laodicea?

Do we ever search for an eternal purpose in life, greater than ourselves?
     Do we ever try to understand God Himself,
     His infinite Life, Mercy and Love?
          Do we ever ask what is man, 
          and what was God's purpose in mans creation?
               Or are our lives wrapped up in our own shortsightedness,
               unable to really see anything beyond what affects our daily existence?
('Our own things will make a pretty small bundle at the judgement,' a preacher used to say.)

Malachi is a book of Judgement and a book of Appeal.
     Appeal from the God Who starts the book saying "I loved you" (1.2)
          The call is to seek until God "suddenly come to His temple." (3.1)
               The promise is of abundant blessing.

But there is one phrase that sticks with me today,
     "Ye shall go forth."  (4.2)

There is a world there ... a world of freedom,
     a world of deliverance from the things which bind mankind -
          the things which bound Adam, 
          the things which bound the hearers of Malachi's message,
          the things which bind the generation in which we live.

What a world is there:
     to go forth ... to God, 
          to go forth ... to Life,
               to go forth ... to freedom,
finding a realm which, in God, is Eternal -
     infinite, beyond measure in all directions.




Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Why has God Given?


In the book of Genesis we find a garden -
a garden of perfect provision 
and perfect beauty,
a garden which was lost when Adam chose sin.

In the book of Revelation we find a tree whose fruit is complete, 
and whose leaves are for healing of the nations.

In the book of Song of Solomon we find yet another garden -
     not of earthly substance like Eden,
          nor yet of heavenly fulfillment,
               but a garden of the Beloved,
                    the garden planted in the hearts of God's own.

The description is very complete: 
     the garden is almost like a renewal of Eden.
          There is an abundance of fruit,
               there are "all trees'"
                    there are "all chief spices."

There is an abundance of waters... constant and limitless.
     It is "a fountain of gardens,
          a well of living waters,
               and streams from Lebanon.

But all that was within the garden was enclosed;
     no one ate of the fruits,
          and not even the fragrance flowed out.

The bride realizes the garden has a greater purpose than mere existence,
     and cries out to the winds
          to blow upon the garden, 
               to shake the branches,
                    to flow among the leaves,
                         and to release abroad the fragrance.
She invites her beloved to come to the garden, 
and to eat of its fruit ...
     "pleasant fruit" giving satisfaction to the eater.

Chapter five starts, "I am come to My garden."
     She has given the garden to Him, the Beloved,
          given in such measure that the garden is no longer her own possession,
               it now belongs to the one to Whom she gave it.
                    He accepts the gift and calls it "My garden."

Now the Bride and the Bridegroom are one -
     what pertains to one pertains to both
          as she loses her will and self in Him.

The garden fulfills its purpose now in fruit and fragrance to the Creator of the garden - the Lover of the bride. 


Thursday, May 21, 2020

What do we Know?


Jesus spoke earth shaking words to the woman at the well in Samaria:

"If thou knewest the gift of God,
     and Who it is that saith ...
          thou wouldst have asked of Him" (Jn. 4.10)

Three simple things:
     the Gift,
          the Giver,
               and the Response.
And all are dependent on the knowing ... "if thou knewest."

They are words which shake me today,
     and render my life naked before God.

How much do I really know of that which God gives?
     How much do I really have of that which God gives?
Beyond all the trappings of conventional Christianity,
     and beyond the religious explanations, 
beyond my plans and human based endeavors,
     how much of that within me is gifted by God

If Life is to know Him,
     then life is measured by the amount of my knowledge of Him.
          And the question is how much do I possess of Life?

Does my knowledge come from what is Revealed to me?

Do our churches operate through Light within,
      or do they follow the forms of the world's presentation.
           Is it too hard to break with this world's structures of expression, 
                its musical forms, 
                     its stage and light effects?

At the end of the day we do well to remember the words, "If thou knewest,"
      -and measure ourselves by this word.
 So also at all of the endings in life...
     at the end of our prayer and our worship,
          at the end of a hymn, of a meeting,
               at the end of our reading of the Scriptures,
                    do we know the reality of it all?

If we really know the Gift there will be things we do,
     and also things we cannot do.
The things we do will be in harmony with the Spirit of the Giver,
and all that is not in harmony will be cast aside.

God is infinite - there is always more to know of Him.
Paul writes after many years of service, "that I may know Him." (Phil 3.10)

The Psalmist expresses, "deep calleth unto deep." (Ps. 42.7)
I don't know how much each of us knows - but the Call of God's depths is eternal.

Isaiah speaks of the requirement (44.3) 
     "I will pour water on him that is thirsty."

Let us come with thirst, and look to God alone,
     for the Gift which He alone can bestow.
          Here is Life, abundant and eternal.

 

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Affront to the Kingdom


Here is a very simple truth:
     That which, on earth, is not of the Kingdom of God 
          is an Affront to the kingdom of God.

Everything that was damaged through the sin of Adam in the garden
is a continual hurt in God's kingdom.
 
Our living on earth is a battle between two kingdoms,
     the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the enemy.

Every day, and every decision of our lives, bears upon these kingdoms,
and somehow, as time passes, God causes His own to see that
our thoughts and our words, and all that our life expresses,
works either for or against the rule and purpose of God.

Far beyond all the things for which we pray,
     the result of our prayer is working for the advancement, 
          or the detriment of the Kingdom of God.

Our prayer on earth, is affecting things which are eternal.
And we carry some of the weight of God's eternal kingdom on our shoulders. 

As we pray we come before the King of all.
     Let us be conscious of the place which we fill.
          Let us be conscious of the reach of our prayers.
               Let us be serious, and lay aside all that would weigh us down.
                    Let us fill the place in which God has put us, and "Stand."