2 Cor. 5:8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
I recently had the privilege of officiating at a funeral of the father of a member of our congregation. The man was a believer which always makes my job a whole lot easier. I was allowed the privilege that day of letting my mind wander to the beauty and majesty of our future in heaven and do my best to make it as inviting as possible to the attendees of the funeral that morning. Heaven is a whole lot more than mansions and golden streets and family reunions, as Jonathan Edwards said, HEAVEN IS A WORLD OF LOVE. It is a different kind of love than you may be familiar with, it is a divine, supernatural love that is rooted in the relationship of the Father and the Son. Actually, it is Christ Himself that makes heaven such an enticing place. Here are some of Edwards words about that place we hope to be in soon.
“We can’t continue always in these earthly tabernacles: they are very frail, and will soon decay, and fall; and are continually liable to be overthrown, by innumerable means: our souls must soon leave them, and go into the eternal world. O how infinitely great will the privilege and happiness of such be, who at that time shall go to be with Christ in his glory, in the manner that has been represented!
…the privilege of being with Christ in heaven, where he sits on the right hand of God, in the glory of the King and God of angels, and of the whole universe, shining forth as the great light, the bright sun of that world of glory, there to dwell in the full, constant and everlasting view of his beauty and brightness, there most freely and intimately to converse with him, and fully to enjoy his love, as his friends and spouse, there to have fellowship with him in the infinite pleasure and joy he has in the enjoyment of his Father, there to sit with him on his throne, and reign with him in the possession of all things, and partake with him in the joy and glory of his victory over his enemies, and the advancement of his in the world…”
I can’t wait! Honestly, I have a growing joy and anticipation and a fear at the same time. I wonder what that great day will begin like? I hope to see you there!
2 Cor. 5:8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Psa. 120:6,7 The Message – My whole life lived camping among quarreling neighbors. I’m all for peace, but the minute I tell them so, they go to war!
Have you had enough? Are you tired of the promises of the world that always turn up empty? You know what I mean; the empty promises of a political candidate that turn into the same old same old after election. Then there are the expectations of the right guy or girl for happily ever after that somehow seems to crash and burn into unrealized expectations. Or how about the joy promised by partying, or the safety and security of financial gain? You get the idea, the expectations of the world never seem to pan out. If you are finally fed up with the blah, blah, blah of unfulfilled hopes then you are a candidate for a different kind of life. Maybe you are finally ready for the One Who is called faithful and true whose words are steadfast and sure. What does it take? It takes a willingness to walk away from the false promises of this world into the journey that multitudes of pilgrims have walked before. The future is shrouded but is shining bright in the hand of the Lord. Here are some comments from Eugene Peterson, translator of the Message, on this verse.
“A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way. As long as we think the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquillity, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith. A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.”
So what is it? Are you fed up or will you try another shot at chasing shadows? Are you still waiting around for Eugene O’Neill’s iceman or looking for Don Quixote’s windmills? Or maybe you, like Abraham, are looking for that unseen city whose builder and maker is God. If you are ready there is no time like the present, throw all those pipe dreams in the trash and turn your eyes to the One Who chases away all shadows. Before you know it you too will be on the road to the Celestial City.
MERRY MONDAY- BY PARRIS BAILEY
“All that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people.” Acts 4:32
There is something special about living through seasons of revival. Yes, I said revival. No, I wasn’t born in the 1700’s during the Great Awakening, nor lived during Azusa, and I could go on about the Healing revivals and many others. I got saved during the Jesus Movement/Charismatic movement down at the lakefront of New Orleans and went onto California to a Bible School/Commune. Little did I realize when I received the Lord there were literally thousands of hippie folks just like me getting a hold of Jesus and changing the whole structure of church. God came down and took me by surprise. The city of New Orleans would be a epicenter of the Catholic Charismatic move for years. When we came back to New Orleans in 1979 our church and many others encountered explosive growth due to the Catholic’s wanting more.
I can still feel the move of God in my heart when I was at bible school, I can still see us worshipping together for hours in the open air. Singing songs and reading our Bibles fervently . We believed everything and lived on nothing. It was the song of heavenly fellowship. “Wherever there is inward vigor of life there will be outward growth; and the Church which is pure, earnest, living will be a Church which spreads and increases.” (Maclaren) God came down and met us in that simple little place called Kerman. That would be my first taste of revival and there have been others. The last revival which I believe still continues started in 1994 and has only gotten deeper. The scary thing is many are clueless that God is at work today in our generation. Sometimes we have an opinion about how revival will look or not look and we end up missing out.
“God has prepared for Himself one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter the community of God join in this song. It is the song that the “morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the creation of the world. (Job 38:7). It is the victory song of the children of Israel after passing through the Red Sea, the Magnificat of Mary after the annunciation, the song of Paul and Silas in the night of prison, the song of the singers on the sea of glass after their rescue, the “song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3) It is the song of the heavenly fellowship.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Psa. 85:10 Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.
As many times as I have read the scriptures, they still leave me amazed. This scripture penned about 1000 BC is crammed full of Christ. David describes the marriage of mercy and truth. In the natural world, mercy and truth are as far apart as east is from west. Mercy speaks about second and third chances. Truth cries for justice. These two realities are irreconcilable. We all know that God is merciful and expects us to be merciful. We also know that God is just and holy and expects the same from us. Balancing both comes only by revelation. David is pointing to the only place mercy and truth can come together, at the cross of Christ. Obviously, the cross displays the mercy of God. Christ died to save sinners. Also, the justice of God is seen at the cross. Sin was judged, Christ represented us and was judged by God at the the cross. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke on this powerful verse.
“This is a remarkable text, and much has been said on it; but there is a beauty in it which, I think, has not been noticed. Mercy and peace are on one side; truth and righteousness on the other. Truth requires righteousness; mercy calls for peace. They meet together on the way; one going to make inquisition for sin, the other to plead for reconciliation. Having met, their differences on certain considerations, not here particularly mentioned, are adjusted; and their mutual claims blended together in one common interest; on which peace and righteousness immediately embrace. Thus, righteousness is given to truth, and peace is given to mercy. Now, where did these meet? In Christ Jesus. When were they reconciled? When he poured out his life on Calvary.”
As Clarke points out, the mercy of God brings about the righteousness of God that we receive as a gift. We are declared righteous by God, not on the basis of our lives but by faith in Christ. This beautiful reconciliation brings us to the completion of this promise, the peace of God. We are all troubled when we are away from God. Peace only comes when we are restored by faith in Christ. Think of this beautiful picture; mercy and truth have come together, righteousness and peace have kissed.
Song 5:16 His mouth is most sweet,
Yes, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved,
And this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem!
Paul said that Jesus is the radiance of His Father’s glory. The goodness of God’s nature is on full display through our Lord Jesus Christ. His incredible love for us is seen in all that He does. The fact that He became one of us shouts out that He loves us. His suffering on the cross is a stunning demonstration that confirms that “God so loved the world’. His teaching, which was like no other man, demonstrates the wisdom of God. His healing the sick and raising the dead reveals His power over sickness and death. His stilling the storms and walking on the water proves His sovereignty over all of His creation. His ways are perfect and this perfection is seen in Christ alone. Again His love is clearly seen in His present day heavenly ministry. He intercedes for us, actually represents us, before our Father in heaven. His extravagance is on full display through the continual outpouring of His presence on whomsoever will. He is altogether lovely. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on this verse.
“The entire person of Jesus is but as one gem, and his life is all along but one impression of the seal. He is altogether complete; not only in his several parts, but as a gracious all-glorious whole. His character is not a mass of fair colors mixed confusedly, nor a heap of precious stones laid carelessly one upon another; he is a picture of beauty and a breastplate of glory. In him, all the things of good repute are in their proper places, and assist in adorning each other. Not one feature in his glorious person attracts attention at the expense of others; but he is perfectly and altogether lovely.”
Our biggest challenge in life is staying focused on this incredible person. Money problems, family problems, political worries, all cry out for our attention. When we turn our attention on these real issues in the real world, the Lord seems so far away. When we turn our eyes back to Him, our problems seem far away. Now don’t misunderstand me, we have to deal with the world and its issues. It just that when we focus on Him first He always takes care of us.
Matt. 14:15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
Matt. 14:16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
I love the various accounts of this great miracle in the ministry of Jesus. In Matthew’s gospel, we see the connection of the death of John the Baptist to this defining moment in the ministry of Jesus. When He could have retreated He decided to advance. It appeared that the Lord was going away into seclusion when compassion stopped Him in His tracks. He was moved by the hunger of the crowds that were chasing after Him. When the disciples wanted to send them away, Jesus opened His heart. You can hear Him saying, “Why send them away? All they need is right here”. It wasn’t just food for their belly that they longed for. Their true hunger, even though they were not in touch with it, was a craving after the Lord. They were starving for spiritual food and Jesus was about to spread the table. From this miracle forward Jesus began to talk about the real reason He came. It was not just to heal the sick and feed the hungry, He came for far more than that. He came to give His life as a sacrifice. He came so we could eat the true food, His body and His blood. Here is a powerful thought on this event from Matthew Henry.
“Christ would not dismiss them hungry as they were, nor detain them longer without meat, nor put them upon the trouble and charge of buying meat for themselves, but orders his disciples to provide for them. See how reluctant Christ is to part with those who are resolved to cleave to him! They need not depart. Note, Those who have Christ have enough, and need not depart to seek a happiness and livelihood in the creature; they that have made sure of the one thing needful, need not be cumbered about much serving: nor will Christ put his willing followers upon a needless expense, but will make their attendance cheap to them.”
The Lord doesn’t want to turn any of us away. Even today, the table is spread. He is calling whosoever will to come to the gospel feast. There is no longer a need to look for sustenance and answers anywhere else. He is all we need.
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely
If the heavens declare the glory of God like David said and His invisible attributes are clearly seen in creation, God must be quite a person. Almost every day I see something in His creation that is breath taking. Just recently my wife and I saw the triangle formed by Venus, Jupiter, and the moon. The most amazing part of it was that it was still daylight. Everything from beautiful sunsets to lazy river scenes, our God has an amazing creative nature. If His handiwork is like this can you imagine what He is like? Just imagine God Himself in His three persons on the throne in heaven. Imagine His great love and grace revealed in the life and death of His Son. His patience, His sovereignty, His wisdom, His eternal plans, all of these are past our human understanding. Actually heaven will be an eternal unveiling of this majestic being. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on this amazing Person.
“Oh, Jesus! thy power, thy grace, thy justice, thy tenderness, thy truth, thy majesty, and thine immutability make up such a man, or rather such a God-man, as neither heaven nor earth hath seen elsewhere. Thy infancy, thy eternity, thy sufferings, thy triumphs, thy death, and thine immortality, are all woven in one gorgeous tapestry, without seam or rent. Thou art music without discord; thou art many, and yet not divided; thou art all things, and yet not diverse. As all the colors blend into one resplendent rainbow, so all the glories of heaven and earth meet in thee, and unite so wondrously, that there is none like thee in all things; nay, if all the virtues of the most excellent were bound in one bundle, they could not rival thee, thou mirror of all perfection.”
How does this relate to our day to life and our worries and problems? What does His greatness have to do with my messy life? When you catch a sense of His greatness, His holiness, His mercy and grace all of those other things seem to disappear into nothing. Our God becomes great to us and able to handle everything that troubles us. Seek Him and His kingdom and He will sort out the rest.
Gal. 4:6,7 ¶ And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
One of the great tragedies of this generation is the absence of fathers. The fatherless family is a picture of the breakdown of our culture. I was blessed to grow up in a home with a mother and a father that stayed together throughout their lives. Now our family wasn’t perfect, far from it, but there is a huge advantage and blessing to having a strong father in place in our lives. All of us have a need for the love, protection, and example of a father. This mirrors the basic need all of us have at the very core of our being. We all long to know our heavenly Father. Jesus promised His disciples before He left that He would not leave them as orphans. He said He would send the Holy Spirit into their lives. Paul called this the Spirit of adoption or the Spirit of His Son. If you are a Christian, you have received this Spirit of sonship. You have become an heir, an heir of God. Listen to Adam Clarke’s powerful words on this verse.
“Thou art no more a servant. Thou who hast believed in Christ art no longer a slave, either under the dominion of sin or under obligation to the Mosaic ritual; but a son of God, adopted into the heavenly family. And if a son, then an heir. Having a right to the inheritance, because one of the family, for none can inherit but the children; but this heirship is the most extraordinary of all: it is not an heirship of any tangible possession, either in heaven or earth; it is not to possess a part or even the whole of either, it is to possess Him who made all things; not God’s works, but God himself: heirs of GOD through Christ.”
What an amazing reality. We are no longer Fatherless!!!. We have been adopted into His family. His Spirit is in our lives. God Himself has become our treasure. This is the answer to the dissatisfaction and restlessness that has become epidemic in our world. We are no longer orphans; God is our Father, Christ is our brother, and we are sons of God.
Acts 9:31 ¶ So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
One of my earliest and fondest memories of my childhood was a funeral of all things. I must have been about four years old and my dad took me on a road trip from our home in South Carolina to the place he was raised in some small country town in Georgia. I don’t even know the name of the town, if you could even call it a town. His Uncle Clevie had died and we were going to pay our respects. I remember how special I felt riding alone with my dad through those winding country roads and staying up late with him to ‘wake the body’. The think that struck my memory the most was that funeral service. Even as a young child I recognized an atmosphere that I had never felt before. My dad’s relatives attended a Pentecostal Church, you know, the shouting and singing kind of church. I remember lots of loud singing, tambourines, crying, and shouts of joy. Yeah, you heard me right, joy at a funeral. Even as a child I recognized that these people didn’t just talk about ‘going to a better place’. They believed in that place called heaven and sang until heaven came into that church. It’s been almost 60 years since that funeral but I can still remember the atmosphere I felt there. Actually that is the atmosphere church is supposed to experience. It’s what I want more of in my church. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s verse.
“The comfort of the Holy Ghost was their consolation, and that which they made their chief joy. They had recourse to the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and lived upon that, not only in days of trouble and affliction, but in days of rest and prosperity. The comforts of the earth, when they had the most free and full enjoyment of them, could not content them without the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Observe the connection of these two: when they walked in the fear of the Lord, then they walked in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Those are most likely to walk cheerfully that walk circumspectly.”
Why was there sadness and joy at that funeral? They were sad because Uncle Clevie had died, they were happy because of the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is real, He will comfort you in whatever circumstance you find yourself in, you just have to take time to let Him.
huperekperissou! (The exhaustless, over and above, more than necessary God)
MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-
“I pray that you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Eph 3:18-20
Paul prays for us “that ye may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height”, the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.” His love passes knowledge but we should hunger for it. When we embark on such a journey it will give us a sense of God’s greatness, a confidence before the world and our troubles would evaporate. It’s as if God would say to all of us, “we have yet to tap into His attributes”. Years ago, Christina Weidner was in from China, ministering to the Marysong girls on the glory of His name. (Christina grew up at our church as a homeschooled little girl with a dream to open an orphanage in China someday.) Not only did she accomplish that but she speaks fluent Chinese, runs a school and church along with her husband Jamie. Christ is begging us to walk on the water with him. We can either breathe in the love of God or else breathe in myself which isn’t a good thing. How does one describe the the dimensions of His love? Take the breadth . . . length . . . depth . . . height? The “breadth” implies Christ’s world-wide love, embracing all men: the “length,” its being extended through all ages (Eph 3:21); the “depth,” its profound wisdom which no creature can fathom (Ro 11:33); the “height,” its being beyond the reach of any foe to deprive us (Eph 4:8) [BENGEL]. “The dimensions of redeeming love are admirable. By enumerating these dimensions, the apostle designs to signify the exceeding greatness of the love of Christ, the unsearchable riches of his love, which is higher than heaven, deeper than hell, longer than the earth, and broader than the sea, Job xi. 8, 9. Being “filled even unto all the fulness of God” (this is the grand goal), is “filled according to your capacity, with the divine wisdom, knowledge, and love; “even as God is full,” and as Christ who dwells in your hearts, for “all the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily” (Col 2:9). Matthew Henry
God is able to do for us and answer our prayers according to the efficiency, richness, and power of the working of the Spirit in our lives. His love overshadows us and begins to dictate every move we make in our lives. It is when we lose sight of His love, that we begin to see the world through our own glasses. I pray he will color your world!