Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away,
You ever wonder why people (all of us) who believe in a real heaven actually act like we don’t in our behavior? What do I mean? All of our focus tends to be on living our best life now. You know; cars and sex and vacations, and houses, and sporting events. We say we believe in heaven but our focus is on the here and now. It is only a revelation of eternity, not just a belief in it, that will change all of that. Enoch is a picture of a man who walked with God. This is one of Paul’s examples of what it looks like to walk in faith. Faith opens our spiritual senses to the eternal world, the kingdom of God becomes a reality, not just a doctrinal belief. When we begin to walk with God by faith, like Enoch, our priorities change. We begin to value and love the Lord, His word, His church, and His people. Here is how Martin Luther described this back in the 1500’s.
“Our human nature spends all of its energy pursuing the fleeting things of this world but doesn’t look forward to the joys of eternal life. People who are devoted to seeking worldly pleasures are worthy of contempt. Similarly, our own human nature, which makes us look for pleasure, is worthy of contempt. Because we are so wrapped up in the concerns of this world, we care little for the riches of eternal life. We should pay attention to this passage and keep it in our hearts. Enoch was not taken from this world by one of his devout ancestors or an angel. He was taken by God himself. This is the comfort that relieved the pain of death for the Old Testament believers. They had so little fear of death that they didn’t even call it death. Instead, they referred to it as mere sleep from which they would awaken into eternal life. For believers, death is not death but simply sleep. When death no longer brings dread and fear— when it no longer has sting and power—it can no longer be called death.”
This is what Jesus was describing when He spoke of God seeking worshippers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. The Greek word for truth in the New Testament is ALEITHEIA. It means the reality underlying the basis of something. In our words, making it real. All it takes is a taste of eternity through the person of the Holy Spirit and you too will walk with God like Enoch.
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Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away,
MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS –
Psalm 77:10 “I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High”
A few weeks ago, our church had a prayer conference and after hearing from all the wonderful speakers I decided to leave my notes and open up about my personal prayer life when it came my turn to speak. I closed my eyes and started with how I start my prayer “remembering the years the Lord has brought me through and his works from old”. I really don’t know how unbelievers make it through this world, I know except for the grace of God, I wouldn’t have been alive. For me, to be able to “paint a tapestry of grace” over my life in prayer has been my life source for over 43 years. What have you been painting these days?
One commentary in referring to Ps. 77 used the term, “I digged into my spirit”. (John Collins)
Adam Clark said, “My spirit made diligent search.” The verb חפשׂ, chaphas, signifies such an investigation as a man makes who is obliged to strip himself in order to do it; or, to lift up coverings, to search fold by fold, or in our own phrase, to leave no stone unturned. So how has your prayer life been of late? I love to rehearse the works of God that he has done over me throughout my life. Someone would have to be blind, deaf, dumb, and downright stupid to not admit the hand of God over us. As Jesus said, ‘the blind lead the blind’.
I pray that you are not just going through the motions of life, but realizing that he is “coloring your world with his love”. I love to say, create a grid recalling the acts of God over you life. Thomas Adams says, To concentrate on ” Not the moments, nor the hours, nor days of a few short afflictions, that his left hand hath dealt to me: but the “years of his right hand;” those long, large, and boundless mercies wherewith he hath comforted me.” I pray you remain quite aware of the grace of God upon your life.
He paints the sky with his wonders, he walks upon the seas and he embraces you as you journey through life. I pray as your close your eyes in prayer, you see the “other world”.
John 5:35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
All of us know that we are all ultimately searching for something real. That’s the way we are all wired. It’s as if we are blind, groping our way through life looking for some light. The world is a dark place becoming darker by the day. That’s exactly how it was when John the Baptist appeared on the scene. Like Jesus said, John was a burning and shining light. His passion for God and spiritual revelation made him appear as a torch in the midst of a dark culture. The light shining out from him prepared the way for the coming of the Lord. This is what Paul meant when he said we appear to shine as lights in the world. Jonathan Edwards spoke about this verse when talking about the role of ministers in colonial America.
“True piety is nothing remaining only in the head, or consisting in any speculative knowledge or opinions, or outward morality or forms of religion; it reaches the heart, is chiefly seated there, and burns there. There is a holy ardor in everything that belongs to true grace. True faith is an ardent thing, and so is true repentance; there is a holy power and ardor in true spiritual comfort and joy; yea even in true Christian humility, submission and meekness. The reason is that divine love or charity is the sum of all true grace, which is a holy flame enkindled in the soul. ‘Tis by this therefore especially, that a minister of the gospel is a “burning light”; a minister that is so, has his soul enkindled with the heavenly flame; his heart burns with love to Christ, and fervent desires of the advancement of his kingdom and glory; and also with ardent love to the souls of men, and desires for their salvation.”
Actually, it was these very lights that brought the awakening that culminated in one nation under God. Could it be that as our nation faces a spiritual darkness that threatens our existence as America that the answer for our dilemma is the same? I believe it is. Our lives today must be lights in the midst of moral darkness.
What could it mean to burn and shine? Burning was Jesus’ description of John’s passion for the Lord. He was on fire for God, the anointing that came on him in his mother’s womb was like a flame of love burning for his God. This flame was contagious and erupted into an awakening characterized by a passion for God. John also shone with revelation light. He saw Christ like no one else ever had and his preaching was like a burning fire of revelation. This is exactly where we are today. We are in need of a generation of Christians and ministers lit up, burning and shining for the Lord.
2Cor. 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Has your heart ever wandered during the preaching at church? How about during private prayer or even Bible reading? What is that? Do you ever long to have a passion for God and His word? Remember the days when you hung on every word and expectancy was part of your daily life? This problem has been around from the beginning. Humans, without the sway of grace, deteriorate quickly into a backslidden bog. There is good news in reference to this, the Lord is faithful to send times of refreshing to His people. This refreshing awakens our first love; everything takes on a new passion. The worship, the preaching; even prayer and Bible study are occasions of great joy. Here is a short testimony from Hannah Heaton, a Connecticut farm woman effected by the ministry of George Whitefield.
“Hearing Whitefield preach began a conversion ordeal for Hannah Heaton, too, a farm woman of North Haven, Connecticut. Whitefield delivered “preaching as I never heard before,” she “wrote, as he explicated the marks of an unconverted person. Did the audience members’ minds ever wander to worldly business as they sat through long church services? Did they struggle to devote even one day exclusively to the Lord? “How could you endure to be in heaven with him forever where nothing but praises are?” he asked. Heaton, stricken with guilt, knew that her attention often drifted during Sunday meetings. “I began to think my nature must be changed but how to attain it I knew not,” she wrote. She struggled for another eight months to discover the way to salvation. Finally, she received a brilliant vision of Christ, “a lovely God man with his arms open ready to receive me.” Full of praise and thanksgiving, she knew that Christ would pardon her sins.”
Christ has revealed Himself to His people for thousands of years. Do you think He is about to stop now? Absolutely not!!!! Just as He revealed Himself to Hannah Heaton hundreds of years ago He is still here, revealing Himself to us, in us, and through us. If you are honest with yourself, maybe you too feel a little disinterested and unenthused about heavenly things. If so, get in the fire. Get to a place, a church, where the fire is burning. You need more than a few practical thoughts about being a better person, you may need a brand new heart.
Psa. 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Unconverted preachers were a huge problem at the time of the Great Awakening. It took years of college to be qualified or recognized as a minister in those days. Sadly, many of the ministers were just educated heathen. Obviously, it takes more than education or information for true conversion to take place, a man’s soul has to be awakened to the grace of God. When George Whitefield began to address the problem of unconverted ministers it released a firestorm that caused great division in the Great Awakening. Many awakened ministers found themselves in the position of agreeing with Whitefield yet defending the unconverted preachers; it got quite messy. Thankfully, the Lord began to raise up a new generation of born again pastors and evangelists. Here is a short glimpse of one of their stories as told by Thomas Kidd.
“Daniel Rogers had grown up in a minister’s family in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and he was under consideration for a ministerial position at Boston’s New North Church when Whitefield arrived. A 1725 Harvard graduate, Rogers knew Christian doctrine and ethics, but had never experienced the new birth. Perhaps Whitefield could help him break through, he thought, and so he joined the evangelist’s traveling cohort. The day before Nathan Cole heard Whitefield preach, Rogers wrote: “I am heart sick of the “kingdom of sin and Satan, and want the Kingdom of God within me in righteousness peace etc. I hunger, I thirst. Lord Jesus, let me be filled, Lord help me to wait upon thee, to believe in thee, to hope in, rely upon thy promise. I find myself a lost damned creature without thee . . . I hunger I thirst after an experimental knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Rogers received such “experimental knowledge” as they approached New York City. “It pleased God of his free and sovereign grace to come into my poor soul with power and so to fill me with peace,” Rogers wrote, “yea with such joy in the Holy Ghost as I never experienced before. I could not forbear smiling nay laughing for joy and gladness of heart.”
Today, we have a similar problem with unconverted “Christians”. Many have been raised in church, prayed “the prayer”, but have little or no knowledge of God Himself. What is the solution? It’s the same one Jesus offered when He spoke to the unconverted minister or church attender; “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN”.
Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
The hand of the Lord upon a man of God can bring sudden awareness of sin in those he ministers to. In today’s scripture Peter suddenly found himself naked before the Lord, his sins were exposed, his new life was about to begin. The Lord raised up a young man by the name of George Whitefield back in the days of Colonial America. The power of God was upon him, as he preached, the hearers would come under conviction of their sinfulness. A Connecticut farmer by the name of Nathan Cole recorded his experience with the hearing of George Whitefield. Here is an excerpt from Thomas Kidd’s book, George Whitefield America’s Spiritual Founding Father, where Kidd shares about Nathan Cole’s encounter.
“’He looked almost angelical; a young, slim, slender youth before some thousands of people with a bold undaunted countenance, and my hearing how God was with him everywhere as he came along it solemnized my mind; and put me into a trembling fear before he began to preach; for he looked as if he was clothed with authority from the great God; and a sweet solemn solemnity sat upon his brow. And my hearing him preach, gave me a heart wound; by God’s blessing: my old foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me.’
This was only the beginning of Cole’s conversion, not the end. For two years more he wrestled with God, especially concerning divine election and unmerited grace. From Whitefield, he understood these doctrines to be essential to authentic Christianity. Finally accepting them, he experienced conversion and assurance of forgiveness. For decades Cole was a key leader in Kensington’s radical evangelical movement, separating from his Congregational church and eventually becoming a Baptist.”
There was obviously that unexplainable ‘something’ on the young George Whitefield. His words carried conviction, authority, and hope. He was raised up by God as a vessel to usher a generation into the kingdom of God. This was not just any generation, this was the first generation of Americans. Our country has strayed far from her moorings in my lifetime. Who would have thought that relationships between people of the opposite sex would be called holy matrimony, that men who ‘think’ they are really a woman trapped in a man’s body can use the girl’s restroom, or that unborn children could be killed as an inconvenience. Adultery and fornication are considered normal behavior, unthinkable.
Maybe it’s time for God to raise up a generation of young George Whitefields to shake our land once again.
To God’s elect … who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge
of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit,
for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.
1 PETER 1:1–2
Holiness can be a scary word. I remember as a young Christian the word holiness stirred up pictures of long dresses, women’s hair in buns, and mean preachers with a list of rules. I have to laugh because I see holiness from a whole different perspective today. Our God is holy and only holy beings can approach Him. Now I have come to know that holiness is the work of a Holy God. Only the Holy Spirit can make us holy. Paul taught about practical holiness in Rom. 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. Look carefully at Paul’s words, we can put to death those sinful tendencies in our lives by the Spirit. It is in yielding to the work of the Spirit that holiness is realized in our lives. It is not by human effort but by faith in God and yielding to the Spirit that we become holy. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray about holiness.
“Christ made Himself holy for us, that we can be made holy through Him. The important work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify God within ourselves so that we can become more like Him. Has this truth ever struck you that the most important task of the Holy Spirit is to sanctify you, so that you are able to become obedient to Jesus Christ, and to grow more and more like Him? If you do not understand this truth, the Holy Spirit cannot carry out His purifying work. If all you require is for the Holy Spirit to “make you a slightly better person,” you will not get very far. But if you recognize that the Holy Spirit means to pass on God’s holiness to you, and that the Spirit lives within you, you will start to realize that He wants to totally possess you.”
So the Holy Spirit actually makes us like the Lord. The blood of Jesus has made us clean by faith, the work of the Spirit in us makes us holy in our practical experience. This brings glory to God.
Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.
1 Timothy 6:17
The blessings and the benefits that flow from the Lord are limitless. Think about it, the Creator of all things!!! How could He ever run out of anything. This creation that we are a small speck of is apparently limitless. Creation is a display of the greatness and infinite nature of God. If you are His child, these eternal resources are at your disposal. His love never ceases, His blessings never run out, His benefits just keep coming. Human love has limitations, our resources run out, our ability to bless others falls miserably short. Our God is like a fountain that never diminishes; the more He gives there is still an infinite supply available. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this characteristic of our God.
“Who can know the number of his benefits, or recount the list of his bounties? Every sand which drops from the glass of time is but the tardy follower of a myriad of mercies. The wings of our hours are covered with the silver of his kindness, and with the yellow gold of his affection. The river of time bears from the mountains of eternity the golden sands of his favour. The countless stars are but as the standard bearers of a more innumerable host of blessings. Who can count the dust of the benefits which he bestows on Jacob, or tell the number of the fourth part of his mercies towards Israel? How shall my soul extol him who daily loadeth us with benefits, and who crowneth us with loving-kindness? O that my praise could be as ceaseless as his bounty! O miserable tongue, how canst thou be silent? Wake up, I pray thee, lest I call thee no more my glory, but my shame. Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake right early.”
What kind of lack are you facing in your life? Are you in need of wisdom? Our God is a fountain of wisdom. Are you facing financial lack or crisis? The resources and benevolence of our God is like a mighty flowing river of abundance. Maybe you feel abandoned or rejected. The love of God is like an ocean, it is deeper than any hurt you may be experiencing in your life. How can you benefit from stream of goodness that never stops. It’s simpler but harder than you can imagine. All it takes is humility, humble yourself and acknowledge your need and dependency of the Lord. All that is left is to step in, step into His love.
Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.1 Timothy 6:17
The fallen state of man blocks him from seeing the goodness and greatness of God. Even after we are born again we are looking through a glass darkly. In other words, the beauty and glory of God is veiled. The veil is removed in Christ. As we press into God and His grace deepens upon us, we can begin to see more consistently the goodness of God. Often times our eyes are opened as we listen and learn from those with eyes wide open. Here are some powerful words from Charles Spurgeon on the good and overflowing nature of our God.
“Our Lord Jesus is ever giving, and does not for a solitary instant withdraw his hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be stayed. He is a sun ever-shining; he is manna always falling round the camp; he is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from his smitten side; the rain of his grace is always dropping; the river of his bounty is ever-flowing, and the well-spring of his love is constantly overflowing. As the King can never die, so his grace can never fail. Daily we pluck his fruit, and daily his branches bend down to our hand with a fresh store of mercy. There are seven feast-days in his weeks, and as many as are the days, so many are the banquets in his years. Who has ever returned from his door unblessed? Who has ever risen from his table unsatisfied, or from his bosom un-emparadised? His mercies are new every morning and fresh every evening.”
These are the words of someone who has learned to sit at the table of the Lord and delight in His bounty. Spurgeon describes God’s grace as oil that continues to flow as long as there is an empty vessel presented to Him. Are you that empty vessel? Are you daily presenting yourself to the Lord for His filling? Spurgeon also described the goodness of God as a sun that is always shining. The light of His revelation and warmth of His love is like the relentless beams of the sun. Today His light is shining toward you. It is filled with life and all that is necessary for wholeness in your life. His grace never fails and it never runs out. Today there is more grace than you could ever need. Present yourself to Him; you won’t be disappointed.
MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Rev. 22:1
One would have to be really numb to not notice how the world is changing right under our little noses. I feel the book of Revelations is upon us. Today in service as we sang “WE COME ALIVE IN THE RIVER,” I couldn’t help but think of the scripture in Revelations concerning the river that proceeds from the throne and the Lamb. Everything that touches this river comes alive. The leaves are for the healing of the nations-Jesus come heal this precious planet that we are on! Lord, we are so in need of Your healing! Christ always come in with a freshness to invigorate our worlds. We come alive in His River.
Enjoy the lyrics from Jesus Culture/Kim Walker
“There is a fountain that drowns sorrows
There is an ocean deeper than fear
The tide is rising, rising
There is a current stirring deep inside
It’s overflowing from the heart of God
The flood of heaven crashing over us
The tide is rising, rising
Up from the ground
we feel it now
We come alive in the river
Break open prison doors
Set all the captives free
Spring up a well, spring up a well
Spring up the well in me
God is up to something big upon the earth and I refuse to sit here and watch the world destroy itself. I will allow the river of God to flow through my veins and burst forth its banks. He makes all things new!
Something is being created in you as I am writing this. The more you walk with God you will indeed “come alive in the river” and burst forth
within you! In the service, our worship leader sang this prophetic song,
“I declare to you new things from the presence of the Lord I declare to you new things that you’ve never seen before”
Grab ahold of God and come alone in his river!