DIVINE LIGHT

Matt. 16:15-17 ¶ He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven”. 

I was desperately searching for God in 1973. I had pretty much run the gamut of spiritual options; I had gone to Bahai faith meetings, checked out the Divine Light Mission, and gone to the feasts at the Krishna Temple. All of these attempts came up empty, each one had another version of religious practices and good deeds that didn’t do it for me. I think the one that finished me off was reading the Nectar of Devotion that forbade passing gas in the Krishna Temple. The strange thing is that I never checked out Christianity, that was nowhere on my radar. That’s when God took things into His own hands, He chased me down and literally flooded me with gospel light on a hot August night in New Orleans in the summer of 1973. In a moment of time I could see; I saw the love of God offered to me by the death of His Son. The gospel made sense, it not only made sense to me it became strangely irresistible. I was changed that night by the light of the glory of God. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this Divine and Supernatural light. 
“This is the most excellent and divine wisdom, that any creature is capable of. ’Tis more excellent than any human learning; ’tis far more excellent, than all the knowledge of the greatest philosophers, or statesmen. Yea, the least glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Christ doth more exalt and ennoble the soul, than all the knowledge of those that have the greatest speculative understanding in divinity, without grace. This knowledge has the most noble object that is, or can be, viz. the divine glory, and excellency of God, and Christ. The knowledge of these objects is that wherein consists the most excellent knowledge of the angels, yea, of God himself.”
So its not trying real hard or turning over a new leaf, it is God Himself moving upon our lives. Maybe your life is about to change. Maybe you are not reading this by accident, maybe the Lord is reeling you in by His irresistible love.  

HONEY IS SWEET

Psa. 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

What does an avocado taste like? There is really no good answer to that question. Of course an avocado tastes like an avocado, it is unique. The only way to know for sure is to taste an avocado for yourself. That is the way it is with spiritual things. Someone can explain in great detail their understanding of God and His word or even tell the stories of their own God encounters but until you taste the goodness of God for yourself what you hear from others is just an idea about God. That is one of the things that troubles me about the current status of Christianity. How many supposed Christians have an idea about spiritual things and have not tasted spiritual reality for themselves? Only when we have a personal spiritual revelation can we be truly born again. This was the heart of the message of the Great Awakening and the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. Here is a thought from his sermon ‘A Divine and Supernatural Light’.

“Thus there is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man can’t have the latter, unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance….”
David had tasted of the Lord as a young man and this taste sustained him throughout his life. He had heard about the Lord from his father all his life but the moment the Holy Spirit fell on him, David knew the Lord for Himself. He had tasted God’s goodness, the Lord was filling him with His sweetness. Have you been awakened by God? It is more than reciting a prayer, you have to taste and see for yourself. When you taste His goodness your whole being will be flooded with light; go ahead and taste and see that the Lord is good.

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

John 6:35 ¶ And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”.

Food keeps us alive. Obviously, we eat for more than survival, pleasure also comes into play, but food is the very strength of our life. As the old adage goes, “you are what you eat”. That’s why what Jesus taught in today’s verse is so important, our spiritual food determines what and who we become. Jesus called this spiritual food our daily bread. Now here is where this parallel between natural food and spiritual food becomes interesting. Just as I said before, we eat physical food for pleasure’s sake, spiritual food begins to take on a spiritual attraction. The more we feast on the written word the more we acquire a taste for it. Reading the Bible can actually become the greatest pleasure of our lives. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on this spiritual food and spiritual nourishment.

“The grace of Christ Jesus, it nourishes the soul; it gives life and strength to it. Before the soul receives this grace, it is dead. In this it doth more than bread does to the body, that does but preserve the life of the body and revives it when weakened and languishing; but this heavenly food revives men when dead. And it also continues the life of the soul: the soul, after it is revived, would die again, were it not for the continuance of supply of grace and spiritual nourishment. It strengthens the soul as food does the body. The soul in its natural condition is a poor, feeble, languishing thing, having no strength; but the grace of Christ makes it strong and vigorous. And this spiritual nourishment makes the soul to grow, as food doth the body. The supplies of the Spirit of God increase the life and vigor of the soul, increases the understanding, increases holy inclinations and affections…”
Edwards describes how we are made alive by spiritual food, nourished and kept alive, strengthened by this food, and actually begin to have inclinations and affections for the Lord awakened by the bread from heaven. Why is this ? Because the very life of God pulsates in every word of God. Remember, Jesus Himself is the word of God. So go ahead and dig in, the table is spread and the meal is better than you can ever imagine.

SPOT THE DRIFT

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

-“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” Heb.10:23

There is something special about going to the corporate assembly and experiencing corporate worship. But you should know by now I am biased. It’s been a neat journey since the age of 16 waking up every Sunday and going to church to experience worship with my brothers and sisters, hear a Holy Ghost message and meet with the living God. I did so many godless things before that didn’t do me any good. I found out going to church and gathering with church folks beat the devil and the old self right out of me. HALLELUJAH! Paul in Hebrews must have known that in our generation we would fight against the corporate assembly or the church. We would rather sit at home in our PJS having “our weekend” going to some sport event or a music festival.

But the “day is approaching”. Yes, my friend this is when we will stand before the Lord and give an account of the life we lived and he isn’t talking about “your doing good things” either. Paul even says to exhort one another when he says in Heb. 3:12 “Take heed brethren, lest their be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” In other words we need to “spot the drift” in our brothers and sisters in the faith. He comes as a thief in the night. When all the world sleeps, that is when he will come. Just make sure you’re not among the sleepers.

“Christianity seems to be concentrating on what we can get by with rather than how much of Christ can we contain. There is no limit to that growth. It is like a spiral which goes up and up and up, and in every convolution ‘draws nearer to the centre, but never reaches it. Our hearts and spirits are wonderfully elastic. They can take in a great deal more of God than we think they can, or than they ever have taken in. We can receive just as much of that infinite Life into our finite spirits as we will. Let us each strive to get more and more of Jesus Christ in us, that we may know Him, and the ‘power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings,’ more fully, more deeply, and may keep it more constantly. Oh, brethren! If we are not ascending the ladder that reaches to heaven, which is Christ Himself, we are descending; and if we are not growing we are dwindling; and if we cannot say that we are being sanctified, we are being made more and more common and profane.” Mcclarens Expositions

COMMUNITY LIFE

1John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

All of us are looking for something in life, that special something that completes us. No one is quite sure what it is they are searching for, yet the search continues. The Bible maintains that the missing ingredient is life itself, the life we find in the community of Jesus. After all, that’s what Jesus came to restore, the lost community of God. This cry for fellowship resounds through the prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane, “Father restore Me to the glory I enjoyed with you in eternity. Father, include those you have given Me into the community of life”. That’s exactly what the first followers of Jesus experienced. You can hear it in the words of John in today’s verse, he had seen and experienced things in Christ that brought him into life. The joy of John and the other disciples was for others to be brought into this community of life too. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on this word communion.

“The word ‘communion’, as it is used in Scripture, signifies a common partaking of some good. Thus we read of the communion of the body of Christ and the communion of the blood of Christ, that is, the common partaking of his body and blood. Therefore, as in a feast they all have communion in the same fare with the host and with the other guests, so Christians have communion with Jesus: they partake of the same Spirit, of the same holiness and the same happiness; they are members of Christ’s body and partake of the same life with the head; they are branches in him and partake of the same sap and nourishment with the vine. Christ and believers are partakers of the same Spirit.”
So the funny thing is that the very thing that many people rail against, the organized church, is where we find this life. Jesus walks in the midst of His lamp-stand even in its deformed and dim version of today. This is where we encounter Christ, in His body. This is where we taste of His body and drink His blood. So maybe its time for you to take another look at your community and see if Jesus is anywhere to be found.

ALLUREMENT OF THE LORD

Song 5:1 ¶ I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;

I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;

I have drunk my wine with my milk.

Eat, O friends!

Drink, yes, drink deeply,

O beloved ones!

The Lord doesn’t get embarrassed and He is certainly not shy. He made the most intimate human relationship, marriage itself, as a picture of our call to intimacy with Himself. The entire Song of Solomon is about spiritual allurement, God is comparing our attraction to Him to the sexual attraction of Solomon and the Shulamite. This Song compares the enjoyment found in a holy sexual, relationship to the joy and intimacy we find in Christ. There is no greater natural pleasure for a human, and the Lord has the audacity to use sexuality as a picture of the spiritual joy we find in Christ.

He also compares feasting and the enjoyment of food to spiritual pleasure. He encourages us to eat as much as we want, obviously there is no benefit to moderation when it comes to feasting on God. He also drags drinking of wine into the formula, He speaks of being drunk with love and taking his bride to the house of wine. This would be scandalous if not for the spiritual application. Jonathan Edwards preached often from the Song of Solomon, check out his thoughts on spiritual indulgence.
“to be endeavoring by all possible ways to inflame their desires and to obtain more spiritual pleasures. . . . Our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value…[Therefore] endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement…There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting”
In this quote Edwards gives us the key to staying out of temptation. He said we are to put ourself in the place of spiritual allurement. That’s it! The power of sin is in the promise of pleasure, that is why sin has such power over humans, it is often quite pleasurable. So what is the answer? Not abstention from pleasure but the outright pursuit of pleasure with one stipulation; we find our pleasure in the greatest place, we find our pleasure in the Lord.

THE TREASURE

Matt. 13:44 ¶ The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

You can learn a lot about someone when you discover their treasure. Everyone has one; from the homeless man’s shopping cart to the rich man’s yacht, different things are precious to different people. You can evaluate a person’s spiritual condition by their value of the Lord. Jesus was talking about that in today’s verse, the treasure in this verse is God Himself. That is what Jesus came for, not to just purchase length of days for us in a place called heaven, He came to give us a new treasure that is too good for words. When He purchased us with His own blood He purchased access to Him for us. We now have access to an amazing relationship with the Lord Himself. God has become our treasure, He is the treasure hidden in a field. Jonathan Edwards often spoke about the Lord being “our good”. Here are some of his thoughts on our precious treasure.

“God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God, he is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the “river of the water of life” that runs, and the tree of life that grows, “in the “midst of the paradise of God” [Rev. 2:7]. The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast.”
So its not the golden streets, the pearly gates, length of days, or even a grand family reunion that is the primary focus of redemption. What Christ purchased at Calvary was our ability to have God as our very own treasure. He is our portion and our treasure, He is more than enough to satisfy all of our wants, He is our good.