OUT OF ZION

Psa. 50:1,2 ¶ The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.

Our world could be characterized as a very dark place. I would have to see it is a far different world than the one I experienced as a child. It seems as if this spiritual darkness has multiplied, especially in the last decade. When I was a young teenager the biggest scandal in town was the pharmacist who was performing abortions for pregnant teens. Now it is common to take the life of the unborn and is even considered the mother’s “right”. Who could have imagined same sex marriages or men using women’s bathrooms just a few short years ago. It has become the norm in our upside down world. These problems are not political but spiritual in nature. As the spiritual climate of our nation has waned these issues have surfaced. The problem isn’t politics, the problem is the spiritual climate. I have to say it begins in the pulpits of our nation; oh I forgot, it’s not cool to have a pulpit, a Bible, or a cross in church anymore.

The purpose of the church is to house the very glory of the Lord. His presence in His church convicts the world of sin, displays the righteousness of God in its people, and attracts people to the glory and beauty of His presence. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes today’s verse.
“The Lord is represented not only as speaking to the earth, but as coming forth to reveal the glory of his presence to an assembled universe. God of old dwelt in Zion among his chosen people, but here the beams of his splendor are described as shining forth upon all nations. The sun was spoken of in the first verse, but here is a far brighter sun. The majesty of God is most conspicuous among his own elect, but is not confined to them; the church is not a dark lantern, but a candlestick. God shines not only in Zion, but out of her. She is made perfect in beauty by his indwelling, and that beauty is seen by all observers when the Lord shines forth from her. Observe how with trumpet voice and flaming ensign the infinite Jehovah summons the heavens and the earth to hearken to his word.”
The world desperately needs an awakened church. The church is the light that penetrates the darkness and the salt that preserves our culture. Let Zion awaken and the Glory of the Lord shine brightly in this dark day.

REJOICE WITH TREMBLING

Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.

Ps.2:11
It seems like everything in the kingdom of God is backwards. You know; the first will be last, the last will be first, you have to lose your life to find it, it is by giving that we receive. It just doesn’t make sense to the human intellect. Take today’s verse for example, ‘Rejoice with trembling’, really? Fear and joy seem to be opposites on the range of human emotion, but that’s what the Bible says, ‘Rejoice with trembling’. The truth is this, this verse can never make sense until…. Until you experience the powerful presence of the Lord for yourself, then you will understand. When the Lord reveals Himself in His manifested glory those are the two simultaneous responses. The joy from being in the presence of the happiest of all beings and fear because of His awesome greatness. There is simply no one or anything like Him. Here are some thoughts from Martin Luther on today’s verse.
“Everything we do is corrupt, just as all of creation is spoiled. So we shouldn’t become overconfident. We need to be afraid of God’s judgment. But what Christ does for us is holy and perfect, and we should cling to his mercy. So we should fear God in a way that doesn’t entirely exclude joy. It should be a genuine joy—a joy that can’t be kept bottled up in our hearts. When we truly believe that we have been reconciled to God because of Christ, we will have a smile on our face, a twinkle in our eyes, and a song of praise on our lips. The Holy Spirit tells us to serve our heavenly King with inward and outward joy, combined with reverence. If we don’t, we’ll become overconfident. We’ll start acting like animals and sink into lustful human pleasures. If we make sure we don’t become overconfident, then God won’t be offended by our happiness. In fact, he’s offended by sadness and demands joy. That’s why people who were in mourning were not allowed to bring God sacrifices, and why the offerings in Malachi were unacceptable to God (Malachi 2:13).”

I guess I always knew it would be terrifying to experience the greatness of God, it was the joy that caught me by surprise. If you really think about it that had to be true. God created joy, He has to be the most joyful of all beings. If you get close to Him get ready to be surprised by life changing joy.
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FRAPPED

Heb. 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Paul was talking about help in the midst of a life threatening storm in this verse. How do I know? He used the most unusual word word for help in this verse. It is an ancient nautical term called boethia in greek. This is the definition:
boetheia – aid; specially, a rope or chain for frapping a vessel:
frap – nautical term; to bind or wrap tightly with ropes or chains.
Paul was talking about a tactic sailors in his day used when a ship was being beaten by a storm and threatened to be broken apart. They would take ropes or chains and literally wrap the boat with these bands to strengthen the vessel. This would hold the wooden ship together against the pounding of the waves. Now do you see what Paul was trying to tell us? He was saying that we could be ‘frapped’, held together or helped by the strongest cords of all. We are held by the bonds of God’s love. Nothing can destroy us because we are helped by God.

So this verse tells us that we can draw near to the throne of grace with confidence in the midst of our storm and find help no matter what we may be facing.

This word, boetheia, is used one other time in the New Testament. It is found in Acts when Paul was traveling to Rome as a prisoner. The ship was caught up in a storm and the sailors used frapping to help save the vessel.

Acts 27:17 “Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.”

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were being tempted to back down on theirs beliefs because of religious persecution. We live in similar times today. Paul was saying that no matter how hard the headwinds of resistance against you are blowing we have help that comes from the Lord. If the circumstances of your life are contrary to the gospel and the pressure from others to temper your beliefs is strong, it may be time for you to come boldly before the throne of grace. You will find well timed help that will be more than enough to get you through.

 

HE TOOK THE LOAVES

Jesus therefore took the loaves.
 John 6:11
I love the pictures painted in the gospels. What a masterpiece is painted by today’s short, simple verse; the little boy’s lunch in the hands of Jesus. This is the way Jesus works even today, we look to Him in our need and He wants to know what is in our hand. Recently I was reminded of a powerful lesson the Lord taught me as a young Christian. I was driving home after looking for a job after just arriving at Bible School when I randomly picked up a hitch hiker. As I shared Christ with this apparently homeless man the Lord kept telling me to give him my lunch. You see I had my lunch under my seat. But that was not the whole problem, I needed a job, I was out of money, and there was no more food at home. I remember giving this man my lunch in reluctance as he climbed out of my car. But here is the best part, when I got home there was a package waiting for me, loaded with groceries full of my favorites from my mom. What a great lesson, our provision is right there in front of us, that day it was in the form of my last lunch. Here are some thoughts from Watchman Nee on today’s verse. 
“For most of His miracles, God makes use of material. Here Jesus accepts five loaves and two fishes. He might have turned stones to bread, but He did not. He chose instead to work with what was offered Him. “Bring them hither to me,” He said. What He does, He does through us. All miracles begin here, with my all in His hands. Keep my loaves to myself, and one man is fed. Give them up to Him, and shall I go hungry?

In a day of extreme national poverty, the prophet Malachi brought to Israel God’s answer to her problem. It was: bring the whole tithe into the storehouse—and see! It takes only a tiny stopper to close a very large bottle, so withholding from us its entire contents. And heaven is like that. Often for us there is no miracle simply because we give God nothing to work on. He asks only a very little—what we have! But He needs that.”
So there you have it, the miracle has been in your hand (or in your pocket) all along. It doesn’t take much, it only takes trusting in the Lord. After all, He has you in His hand. 

LOOKING INTO HEAVEN – THE FATHER’S BLESSING

Matt. 14:19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. 

Have you ever tried to do things on your own without the help of God? Actually that is probably a pretty silly question, all of us have. The problem we run into in doing the Lord’s work is this, our limited human resources could never possibly be enough. At the end of the day, only God can do the work of God. Human effort is never adequate. I have had to learn this lesson the hard way far too many times. One example of this is our production Beyond the Grave. In the early years of our ministry we tried again and again to produce dramas. We would work on them for months and use all of our available resources for one or two performances. Church people enjoyed them but the altar calls were meager at best. Then Beyond the Grave Happened. Our first performance was put together at the last minute but the results were shocking. The first performance led to another and another. Seventeen years have come and gone and Beyond the Grave continues. Many thousands have come to Christ, the results have been staggering. What was the difference between BTG and the earlier productions? The only explanation is the blessing of the Lord. Here is how Watchman Nee describes this phenomenon.

“Five loaves and two fishes proved more than sufficient to feed the five thousand people who followed Him to the desert because He blessed the food; but ten times that amount, or a hundred times, would have been insufficient without His blessing. No matter how many the gifts or how great the power we may be able to produce from our store, the need of the multitudes will not be met by these alone. The blessing of the Lord is the determining factor. When this truth breaks upon us we shall hand over what we have to Him- whether it is two loaves or a hundred – and shall acknowledge: “Lord, it is Thy blessing that matters.” Whether our loaves be few or many is of little consequence. If a man’s hunger is to be satisfied only one thing is needful. That one thing is the blessing of the Lord.”
So here we are; totally dependent on God. When we see it the striving and pressure stops. The blessing of the Lord is more than we could ever need. He is able to do incredibly above and beyond all we can ask or think. 

12 LARGE BASKETS FULL 

Matt. 14:20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. 

Feeding the 5000 has been part of our ministry for over 20 years. It really came in a most unexpected way. It was 1990 and our church was running on empty. We had done everything we knew to do and we just couldn’t make ends meet. We just couldn’t pay our bills. Have you ever been in that predicament. I kept asking the Lord for a financial breakthrough. You know what I mean? Really Lord, just send us a millionaire. That’s when I had the most unusual impression. Help people who have no way to help you back. In other words lend to the Lord. That was it. Find the hurting, the homeless, the sick and the worn out and watch what happens. That’s how we started Feed the Multitudes. The Lord taught us how to depend on Him for the impossible. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this miracle. 

“They did all eat, and were filled. Those whom Christ feeds, he fills; so runs the promise of God. They shall be satisfied. As there was enough for all, they did all eat, so there was enough for each, they were filled; though there was but little, there was enough, and that is as good as a feast. The blessing of God can make a little go a great way; as, if God blessed what we have, we eat, and have not enough. There was to spare; They took up of the fragments that remained, twelve baskets full, one basket for each apostle: thus what they gave they had again, and a great deal more with it; and they were so far from being nice, that they could make this broken meat serve another time, and be thankful. This was to manifest and magnify the miracle, and to show that the provision Christ makes for those who are his is not bare and scanty, but rich and plenteous; bread enough, and to spare, an overflowing fulness.”
After the people had been fed there were 12 large baskets full. These baskets were the size of a man and there was one for each disciple. That was no coincidence. Could it be that is how God meets our needs? It is in helping others that the Lord provides for us. 

STEVE SOLOMON – ABSENT FROM THE BODY

2 COR. 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 

Yesterday, my friend and co laborer Steve Solomon went to be with the Lord. He will be greatly missed. Steve and I became friends after meeting in revival meetings in 1994. He rapidly became one of the favorite guests in our pulpit. Our church loved Steve Solomon. What stood out about his ministry was his love for God’s presence and His passion for the written word. He would step over into prophetic songs that he called shiggianoth. It was Holy Ghost worship at its finest. One of those spontaneous songs was developed into a song on the Earthsuit album. In the song the reference to “yellow soul” is speaking about the glory of the Lord. This is called Jesus Riding on a White Horse. 
Searching high with a yellow soul

I dig for ashes in a sea of gold

Drifting low, my yellow soul

I’ll live on air if the clouds will hold
Jesus riding on a white horse

Hero calling from the sky

Jesus riding on a white horse

With spare room for you and I to fly
Riding on a white horse high

Wanna ride, wanna ride so high

On a white horse high

Sail high on the ocean sky
Searching high with a yellow soul

There’s no tomorrow in the days of old

I was falling low, with my yellow soul

It’s sad to burn, left in the cold
But I see Jesus riding on a white horse

Hero calling from the sky

I see, see Jesus riding on a white horse

With spare room for you and I to fly
Riding on a white horse high

Wanna ride, wanna ride so high

On a white horse high

Sail high on the ocean sky
Wanna ride, wanna ride so high

Wanna ride, wanna ride so high

Sail high on the ocean sky

Sail high on the ocean sky
Wanna ride, wanna ride so high

Wanna ride, wanna ride so high

Sail high on the ocean sky

Sail high on the ocean sky
Jesus riding on a white horse

Hero calling from the sky

I see, Jesus riding on a white horse

With spare room for you and I to fly
On a white horse high

Wanna ride, wanna ride so high

On a white horse high

Sail high on the ocean sky
I guess the thing I am going to miss the most was the daily phone calls. I would call about golf swing thoughts, sermon ideas, or just to have a shoulder to cry on. Steve loved life but he really loved the word of God. He taught me to love good Bibles and he loved to preach his latest sermons to me. What a privilege it was to know Steve and to run with him these last 22 years. If you check out the words to this song you will see Steve finally got his answer, he is sailing high on the ocean sky, getting ready for that ride with Jesus at His return. Come quickly Lord.