NOT FOR GIRAFFES

Matt. 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Matt. 5:5 Blessed are the humble,

for they will inherit the earth.
The kingdom of God is quite different from the kingdoms of this world. Actually, the character of a kingdom starts at the top with the king, that’s why the kingdom of God is so different. Jesus is our king but quite a different kind of king, We catch a glimpse of this at His interaction with Pilate. “Are you a king?” Pilate asked. He sure didn’t look like a king, His followers ran away, He had been beaten beyond recognition. He had no palace, no army, no great wealth; how could He possibly be a king? Jesus answered the question in a most unusual way, “My kingdom is not of this world”. What was He saying? What could He mean? He was clearly saying He was a King but a very different kind of a king. Like Paul said, “the kingdom of God is not meat or drink (not physical) but it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.

Revival brings us face to face with this upside down kingdom, its not what everyone expected. Here is a glimpse of the kingdom at Azusa from an eye witness Frank Bartleman.

“No subjects or sermons were announced ahead of time, and no special speakers for such an hour. No one knew what might be coming, what God would do. All was spontaneous, ordered of the Spirit. We wanted to hear from God through whoever he might speak. We had no “respect of persons.” The rich and educated were the same as the poor and ignorant, and found a much harder death to die. We only recognized God. All were equal. No flesh might glory in His presence. He could not use the self-opinionated. Those were Holy Ghost meetings led of the Lord. It had to start in poor surroundings to keep out the selfish, human element. All came down in humility together at His feet. They all looked alike and had all things in common in that sense at least. The rafters were low, the tall must come down. By the time they got to “Azusa,” they were humbled, ready for the blessing. The fodder was thus placed for the lambs, not for giraffes. All could reach it.”
That really says it all, the fodder is for the lambs, not the giraffes. Jesus was like a lamb led to the slaughter, lets follow in His steps of meekness and humility.

ENJOY

Delight yourself in the Lord , and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4
Once you see it, the enjoyment of God permeates the scripture. To know Christ and enjoy Him is the very essence of our lives. Now don’t misunderstand, I am not talking about enjoying His blessings and benefits, I am talking about the sheer pleasure that comes from intimacy with the Lord. This may be a forgotten theme in many Christian circles today but it was the very substance of many great Christians that have gone before us. The great man of prayer, George Muller, said it like this.
“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.”
John Owen, the great English theologian, said that pleasure in God was the very substance of the scripture.
“The design of the whole of Scripture, and all the parts of it, hath an impress on it of divine wisdom and authority: and hereof there are two parts: first, To reveal God unto men; and, secondly, To direct men to come unto the enjoyment of God.”
Stop and think about what Owen was getting at, scripture exists to reveal Christ to us and from that we find the source of all joy. Owen goes on to stress the importance of pressing beyond just the beliefs that we gain from scripture, to press on to know the reality of God
“If we satisfy ourselves in mere notions and speculations about the glory of Christ as doctrinally revealed unto us, we shall find no transforming power or efficacy communicated unto us thereby. . . . Where light leaves the affections behind, it ends in formality or atheism; and where affections outrun light, they sink in the bog of superstition, doting on images and pictures, or the like.”
Finally we come to Charles Spurgeon. He teaches us that reading and studying scripture is important. He points us to the reality that pleasure in God is wrapped up in the scriptures. We become like miners, mining for gold as we search the scriptures.

‘Certainly, the benefit of reading must come to the soul by the way of the understanding. . . . The mind must have illumination before the affections can properly rise towards their divine object. . . . There must be knowledge of God before there can be love to God: there must be a knowledge of divine things, as they are revealed, before there can be an enjoyment of them.’
So go ahead and dig in to God’s word. There are pleasures evermore waiting for you there.

SEEING THE GLORY

2Cor. 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Salvation is an amazing thing. It is not based on our efforts but is entirely dependent on supernatural revelation. That is especially hard in our secular world, everything is so predictable and dependent on human talent and human effort. Something supernatural makes humans really uncomfortable because it places us in a place of total weakness and total dependency on something way out of our control. That “something” is the Lord and that thing that He does is a total work of grace. Unexplainable light begins to shine into our hearts from hearing or reading the Word of God. We become aware of our sinfulness, His mercy, and His power to change our lives. Like today’s verse says, we are transformed, totally and absolutely recreated into different kinds of people. The work of God is thorough, our very nature is different. Here is how John Piper describes it.

“This new birth, “through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23), gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). This supernaturally given, spiritual sight of the glory of God in Christ is the ground of saving faith. God is seen with the eyes of the heart as truly as the eyes of our head see the sun in the sky. And this sight of the glory of God in Christ compels us. It is no more resistible than the enjoyment of your favorite food is resistible when it is in your mouth. And so it is when God becomes your favorite, by the opening of your eyes to see his convincing and enthralling beauty. To see him as supreme in beauty is to desire him above all.”

There is a suddenness as well as a long slow effect of this life change. For many, there is a dramatic life change almost instantaneously. For those who continue in His word, the supernatural change happens the rest of their lives. We are being changed from one degree of glory to another.

I AM BECOMING WHAT I AM BEHOLDING

MERRY THURSDAY BY PARRIS

-“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” 2 Cor. 3:18 Berean

Our good friend Kelanie Goeckler wrote a song called “The New has Come” and in her lyrics she sings “I am becoming like the One I’m beholding. The old is gone, and the new has come”.

The more we behold the scripture, behold Christ in His intimacy and behold the love of God all around us the more divine information we will receive. Jesus was always speaking through parables so that “those that heard would hear, and those that saw would see”. Most of us just aren’t beholding Him in all things but rather behold images/voices/noise that is of this world.

To allow ourselves to be in the constant state of change is painful and to obey his voice sometimes impossible. I love this quote found in Calvin’s Commentary, “Tis not a change only into the image of God with slight colors, an image drawn as with charcoal; but a glorious image even in the rough draught, which grows up into greater beauty by the addition of brighter colors: Changed (saith the Apostle, 2 Corinthians 3:18) into the same image from glory to glory: glory in the first lineaments as well as glory in the last lines.” —( Charnock’s Works)

I pray he has done more than the charcoal drawing on me! But I am becoming what I am beholding. Yes, today I decide what voice will I listen to in my life and being fixated on our faults can lead us away from what we should be beholding. Another devotional said, “The continual grubbing on the inside to see whether we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, morbid type of Christianity, not the robust, simple life of the child of God.” Kevin Ott

My friend the old is gone and the new has come. Learn to behold Christ in all things. Behold Christ in His glorified state, behold Christ working in you a far bigger transformation than you can ever imagine. There is nothing greater than redemption.

GOD’S DECREES

Rom. 8:28-30 ¶ And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s word is powerful. From the opening page of the Bible, throughout the Old Testament prophets, in the ministry of Jesus, and the apostles; God’s word is creative and accomplishes its intended purposes. We see everything in creation formed by God’s spoken word, we see the events of history proclaimed through His prophetic word, we even see signs, wonders, and miracles following the words of Jesus and His apostles. When the Lord speaks it settles everything, it is impossible for His decrees to not come to pass. When the Lord wants to accomplish something in the earth, He moves upon the hearts of man and begins to work in them and through them. The Lord has plans for this generation; when you hear His voice, yield and follow, you can become a channel for the purposes of God. Here is the way Jonathan Edwards describes the decrees of God.

“…when he decrees diligence and industry, he decrees riches and prosperity; when he decrees prudence, he often decrees success; when he decrees striving, then often he decrees the obtaining of the kingdom of heaven; when he decrees the preaching of the gospel, then he decrees the bringing home of souls to Christ; when he decrees good natural faculties, diligence and good advantages, then he decrees learning; when he decrees summer, then he decrees the growing of plants. Thus, when he decrees conformity to his Son, he decrees calling; and when he decrees calling, he decrees justification; and when he decrees justification, he decrees everlasting glory.Thus all the decrees of God are harmonious…”
All of creation responds to God and His word. One of my favorite verse actually shares how Jesus is ruling the universe today.
Heb. 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
If Jesus is really upholding all things by His word, we can take courage, we are also in the grasp of His word, upheld and sustained by Him.

BORN IN ETERNITY

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John1:1,14,18)
In the gospel of Luke and in Matthew there is an emphasis on the human birth of Our Savior. John’s account is much different. John turns immediately to the eternal nature of Jesus Christ. John is focused on the blazing Glory of the Son of God. His account does not have the taste of a casual observer but the sense of someone entranced in the Glory of the eternal Son. His first words capture the essence of his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, And the Word was God”. In verse 14 you hear the evidence that settled everything for John: “we beheld His Glory”.

That was it for John! He had seen the glory of the Lord. John had not been present at the manger scene and he had not been there with the shepherds, but John saw the empty tomb for himself. The power of death had been crushed, the eternal Son had defeated death on the cross, and He was truly alive forever more.

For us today 2,000 years have passed since the birth of Christ. The wise men have been gone for generations and the shepherds are just figures on a Christmas card today, but the eternal Son is still alive. The Word has taken on human flesh. I may not have been with John at the empty tomb, I never heard the angels sing, and I have never followed a star across the desert, but I, too, have seen His Glory. Christianity is alive and well today because of the testimony of people like you and me who have tasted the goodness of God for ourselves and have embraced the truth of the gospel. As John said, no one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, He has declared Him. Today Jesus is still the Word who became flesh, and He still tabernacles amongst us through our own personal testimony of Jesus. He is still “declaring Him” through your life and testimony. May the eternal Son declare His Glory in you and through you this Christmas!

ARRIVAL

John 1:1,2 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

We recently celebrated Thanksgiving which signals the beginning of our sure march to Christmas. This season has been called Advent for two millennia. We are awaiting the arrival of Christmas Day. This Thanksgiving my grandson James was at our house several hours before the rest of the family arrived for our Thanksgiving meal. James was beside himself; he couldn’t wait for the arrival of all the cousins. He was so excited as he anticipated the coming ‘festivities’. That’s exactly how it is for Christians; we are actually waiting for two arrivals. We are excited about the arrival of Christmas Day. It’s not the parties or presents that stirs our hearts, it’s the hope that Christmas Day brings that fills us with expectancy. That day is the celebration that light has entered the world and the age of darkness is about to close. The second arrival is even more mysterious. Just as the faithful in Israel were awaiting the birth of the Messiah at the time of Christ’s birth, we too are waiting for Him. We know His promise is sure and He will return soon in the same way He left. The celebration of His first coming fills our hearts with anticipation of His soon return. Here are some thoughts from Billy Graham on the arrival of Christmas.

“The word Advent means arrival, and it refers to the arrival of Jesus Christ into the world. The “Advent season” usually starts four weeks before Christmas and concludes with the celebration of Christ’s birth. Some churches emphasize the Advent season more than others, but all Christians look forward to celebrating Christ’s birth during this season of the year.
Why was Jesus’ birth so important? The reason is because slightly over 2,000 years ago, God stooped down from Heaven and became a human being: Jesus Christ. As the Bible says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14, NIV).
Think of it: God became a man! He did it because He loves us—and that’s what we should celebrate as Christmas approaches. Take time between now and Christmas to reflect on this great truth.”
I pray the blessing of the Lord be upon you and your house as we enter into this season of joy. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!