Progressively seeing God

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“What bliss you experience when your heart is pure! For then your eyes will open to see more and more of God.” Matt.5:8

Something got on me a few months ago and Ive been running in the overflow of that. I guess you could say a fresh mantle, wind or anointing. To speak even more openly I saw another view of God. Becoming a Christian isn’t a one time act but a continual series of supernatural events that are life changing. He loves to expand your vision of himself! We find his presence all around us, it just gets a little deeper with divine clarity and begins to spill out all around you. You can learn to see the beauty of life even in dead things. In fact the more you see God in your present, you will see God in the future and he will take you back to the past to see him there. Are you seeing more of more of God?

When we walk in innocence we begin to see more of the works of God, when we walk squinty eye we stumble at everything. In the Passion Translation it says, “They see God” or the future tense (“They will see God”). The Greek is “They will progressively see God.” The Bible speaks of being blessed and again in the Passion it quotes; The Aramaic word toowayhon means “enriched, happy, fortunate, delighted, blissful, content, blessed.” Toowayhon means great happiness, prosperity, abundant goodness, and delight! Toowayhon means to have the capacity to enjoy union and communion with God. Have you drawn the curtains in your life to stay in the darkness? My friend he wants union and communion with you and everyday your capacity for God can be enlarged! No matter how discouraging the events of the day unfold, God has the bigger view!

Lange says; “Purity of heart consists in that steady direction of the soul toward the divine life which excludes every other object from the homage of the heart. They behold God. The term refers to a life pure in the inmost tendency and direction of the heart, because it is entirely set upon what is eternally and absolutely pure. Hence it applies to walking in the Spirit, or to a life of sanctification, or to being born of God When thus the inmost heart is pure. its outgoings in life will also be pure. The inner life will ever manifest itself more and more clearly as “seeing God. This vision of God commences when the eye of the soul opens, or when spiritual vision begins in the regenerate heart; it is perfected when in eternity we shall see Him face to face.”

Gill says, “for they shall see God; in this life, enjoying communion with him, both in private and public, in the several duties of religion, in the house and ordinances of God; where they often behold his beauty, see his power and his glory, and taste, and know, that he is good and gracious: and it will be an appropriating and transforming one, and will last for ever.”

God alone can open our eyes of purity so that we enter into his bliss and will forever see so many aspects of Christ. I pray you dive in! It’s truly a life of wonder.

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL

Matt. 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

Becoming merciful is the sure sign of Christ working in your life. Where does mercy come from? Obviously it comes from God but how does mercy for others begin to work in me? Seeing the incredible mercy extended to us; to you and to me, this is where mercy comes from. If we remember the life of sin that we lived and the incredible mercy that was extended to us, what else can we do but to extend mercy to others. The Passion Translation Notes bring out how mercy is connected to what is going on in us; check this out.

“The Hebraic and Aramaic concept of mercy is that it comes from our innermost being. The root word for “mercy” is the root word for ‘womb’.”

So mercy is connected to the deepest part of us, the part of us that gives birth to a child. Barclay also brought out the personal nature of mercy; check his comments out.

“The Greek word for merciful is eleemo. But, as we have repeatedly seen, the Greek of the New Testament as we possess it goes back to an original Hebrew and Aramaic. The Hebrew word for mercy is checed; and it is an untranslatable word. It does not mean only to sympathize with a person in the popular sense of the term; it does not mean simply to feel sorry for someone ill trouble. Checed, mercy, means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings.”

I learned a powerful lesson about extending mercy several years ago when I felt wronged by the actions of another ministry. I felt the actions were unethical and had done damage to the kingdom. I am ashamed of how I felt now but it seems I was secretly looking for some sort of payback. How did revenge turn into mercy? I saw it one day reading from Palm 73;

“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.”

The Lord asked me, “is this what you want, judgement?”

That moment effected me powerfully. No one gets away with anything. I don’t want to see judgement on anyone. Mercy, Lord. Mercy triumphs over judgement!

THE GREATEST JOY

Matt. 5:10 – Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I have to admit, I always struggled with the persecution thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I am honored to be criticized for my faith but I am not too excited about beatings, stonings, or beheadings. I used to feel inferior when I read about the joy of the martyrs. It made my faith seem so small. It wasn’t until I was touched by supernatural joy, the blessedness Jesus spoke of, that I began to understand. Peter even said, in 1 Peter 4:14 – “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” To me that answers everything, there is a special anointing and joy reserved for physical persecution for Christ’s sake. Here is how William Barclay described John’s disciple Polycarp and his persecution.

“To have to suffer persecution was an opportunity to show one’s loyalty to Jesus Christ. One of the most famous of all the martyrs was Polycarp, the aged bishop of Smyrna. The mob dragged him to the tribunal of the Roman magistrate. He was given the inevitable choice–sacrifice to the godhead of Caesar or die. “Eighty and six years,” came the immortal reply, “have I served Christ. and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” So they brought him to the stake, and he prayed his last prayer: “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy well-beloved and ever-blessed son, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee … I thank thee that thou hast graciously thought me worthy of this day and of this hour.” Here was the supreme opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to Jesus Christ.”

There is a special celebration reserved for the martyrs in heaven. There seems to be an anticipation growing as the world is judged at the end. If God is God, there can be no greater honor than to suffer for the sake of His Name, it will not go unnoticed or go unrewarded. Again, the joy is not reserved for the next world only, this joy is connected to the sufficiency of grace in this life to rejoice in the Lord when facing extreme resistance. So if you are being attacked for your faith, rejoice; the Spirit of the Lord is on you.

BLESSED

MATT. 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest of all sermons, nothing else even comes close. In it we find the summation of the teaching of Jesus to His disciples. He starts off His message with His beatitudes. These short, profound statements introduce us to a different kind of life. It is makarios in Greek and toowayhon in Aramaic. These words could be defined as supernatural or God’s kind of joy. This is the joy that humans were meant to enjoy and Jesus is teaching us the kind of life that enjoys this blessedness. Here is how the Passion Translation Notes describe this blessedness.

“Blessed are they.” The Aramaic word toowayhon means “enriched, happy, fortunate, delighted, blissful, content, blessed.” Our English word blessed can indeed fit here, but toowayhon implies more—great happiness, prosperity, abundant goodness, and delight! The word bliss captures all of this meaning. Toowayhon means to have the capacity to enjoy union and communion with God. Because the meaning of the word goes beyond merely being blessed… The implication of this verse is that the poor in spirit have only one remedy, and that is trusting in God. This total reliance upon God is the doorway into the kingdom realm.”

He starts this teaching with today’s verse, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God”. Here are some comments from the passion Notes about this verse.

“humble in spirit,” or, “poor in spirit,” which means to be humble and totally dependent upon God for everything. It is synonymous with “pious” or “saintly,” not just in the sense of those who possess nothing. It could be translated “Delighted are those who have surrendered completely to God and trust only in him.”

This is the beginning of supernatural joy, total God dependency. This describes leaving behind human effort and leaning on God for all things that pertain to life. This is a description of those who have learned to pick up their cross and follow Jesus. Its in dying to self and no longer trusting in our own resources that we can begin to access the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, the supernatural realm of the Spirit, belongs to those who have humbled themselves. This is the beginning of supernatural joy, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”

SONG OF HEAVEN

Matt.5:8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

You ever think about the sights and sounds of heaven? In Revelations 14 John tries to describe the singing he heard in heaven. It sounds strangely similar to the way he described the Lord’s voice in Revelation 1. He said the singing had the sound of many waters, like the ocean. Why was the singing so different from the singing on earth? (You know John had heard some powerful worship in his lifetime). I think it all has to do with perception. When you see something worth worship, the worship takes on a new fervency. With eyes wide open the worshippers in heaven are totally unrestrained. Here is how Jonathan Edwards described that scene in his Thanksgiving sermon in 1734.

“They that see God cannot but praise him. He is a Being of such glory and excellency, that the sight of this excellency of his will necessarily influence them that behold it to praise him. Such a glorious sight will awaken and rouse all the powers of the soul, and will irresistibly impel them, and draw them into acts of praise. Such a sight enlarges their souls, and fills them with admiration, and with an unspeakable exultation of spirit.

’Tis from the little that the saints have seen of God, and know of him in this world, that they are excited to praise him in the degree they do here. But here they see but as in a glass darkly; they have only now and then a little glimpse of God’s excellency; but then they shall have the transcendent glory and divine excellency of God set in their immediate and full view. They shall dwell in his immediate glorious presence, and shall see face to face. Now the saints see the glory of God but by a reflected light, as we in the night see the light of the sun reflected from the moon; but in heaven they shall directly behold the Sun of righteousness, and shall look full upon him when shining in all his glory.”

So what about where we are today, do we have a heart of thanksgiving this Thanksgiving in 2018? If Jonathan Edwards is right maybe that is determined by what we have seen of the Lord. Take some time as we celebrate Thanksgiving and reflect on the beauty of the Lord. Maybe you will be struck by His magnificence and be caught up in the heavenly song.

THE FOURTH OF JULY

Matt. 5:14 ¶ “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matt. 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The Fourth of July, Independence Day, what kind of visions does it stir up in you? Family gatherings, hot dogs, picnics, fireworks or does it take you farther back back almost 250 years to the birth of our nation?Things have changed a lot in those 250 years, they have changed a lot in my life time. Those changes confirm that we have lost our sense of national purpose and destiny, we have forgotten who we are and why we are. When I go back to those earliest days at the birth of our nation I am always shocked at the role Christianity played in the founding of this great nation. I want to share some quotes from some of those men that will bring you back to the beginning, back to the days when we became “One Nation under God”.

– George Washington, Prayer –

“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ.”

– Samuel Adams –

“We have this day [Fourth of July] restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His Kingdom come.”

– United States Congress 1782 –

“The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”

– John Adams –

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

– John Adams

“[The Fourth of July] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

So I say; Lord, do it again. Let the winds of spiritual awakening settle on the land of the free and the home of the brave once again. God, bless America one more time. Remind us of who we were so we can again return to the people our world needs us to be.

HUNGRY

Matt.5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Have you ever thought of spiritual hunger as a gift from God? If you really think about it how could it be anything else? If the Bible is true no one has a hunger for God unless it comes from the Lord. Paul said it like this,

“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;

THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;

ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”

If Paul is right then how can there be any hope for any of us? We can see the answer in Paul’s personal story. Paul was angry, full of hatred toward Christianity when everything changed. In a moment he went from angry to hungry. What changed him? He was changed by one glimpse of the glory of God. Spiritual hunger is created when Christ becomes real to us. Here is how the great Puritan pastor Matthew Henry described this phenomenon.

“We must truly and really desire them (spiritual things), as one who is hungry and thirsty desires meat and drink, who cannot be satisfied with any thing but meat and drink, and will be satisfied with them, though other things be wanting. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest and importunate; “Give me these, or else I die; every thing else is dross and chaff, unsatisfying; give me these, and I have enough, though I had nothing else.” Hunger and thirst are appetites that return frequently, and call for fresh satisfactions; so these holy desires rest not in any thing attained, but are carried out toward renewed pardons, and daily fresh supplies of grace. The quickened soul calls for constant meals of righteousness, grace to do the work of every day in its day, as duly as the living body calls for food.“

To the natural mind spiritual hunger doesn’t make sense. How can we want what we don’t know or see? That’s why I say spiritual hunger is a gift, we receive it like everything else from the Lord, by faith. In a moment we are justified by grace through faith and hungry becomes part of who we have become. So this is what Jesus meant, blessed or happy are those who hunger after righteousness, they shall be filled.

CENTERED

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Ye are the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14

I have some really great memories of my early Christian years. Excitement about sharing our faith in Christ was in the air. It wasn’t just the professional ministers that preached Christ, it was the pleasure of all Christians. In my first semester of Bible School (I started two weeks after my conversion) I was given several powerful tools to win Christ. First, our Bible College published a number of very good gospel tracts. We were taught to carry them everywhere with us and distributing them was a way of life. We were also taught how to share the basic plan of salvation using Bible verses. Those scriptures are still part of my arsenal. Presenting Christ as the only way of salvation became our passion and shaped all of our lives. We all were full time Bible students and had full time jobs to support ourselves, yet sharing our faith was the unquestioned part of our daily lives. We never considered that preaching Christ was just for the professionals. Here are some thoughts from Watchman Née evangelism as a way of life.
“Some ask, should they preach, or should they seek employment in a profession or trade? Are there two roads in front of a child of God? Where in Scripture do we find such alternatives: to preach or find work? Is it a choice we are called upon to make? God’s people are a lamp for witness. Is there then a Christian who is not to witness? It cannot be that a few preach, while in some mysterious sense all are the lamp. No, there is a living witness for God on earth, and for that I live. This is the one road for us all, and there is no other. None can be the Lord’s and not testify to him. All must preach Christ; that is the big thing. It is a secondary question whether all the time is to be given to it or some spent in breadwinning. For everything turns on where our center is. God cannot use one who adds preaching to business; He can use one who adds business to preaching. It simply depends which side the addition is on! God, not our business, is to be the center of our lives.”
To some, Nee’s statements might seem radical. To those who are radically saved it sounds like the normal Christian life. Lord, pour out a passion for the lost on us again!

NOT FOR GIRAFFES

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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.

Pure Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.Matt.5:8
Have you ever really thought about this promise? No, really! Just think about it for a moment. This is a promise to be able to see God. I think of it like this, this enables me to see God in every part of my life; in the small things, the really big things, and even in those most difficult moments. To see God consistently in my life makes all the difference in the world. It takes away the fear and the second guessing, it allows me to enjoy life and know that He has my back all the time. But this brings us to the next question, how do I get a pure heart? Actually the pure heart is a gift that we receive by faith. The Lord promises to take away our “stoney heart” and to replace it with a heart of flesh, a new heart. This is the new birth or what Jesus called being born again. But here comes the tricky part, we have to walk in this new life consistently to experience these benefits. When we walk by faith in this newness of life, that’s when we see God. Luther spoke about this verse in a practical way, pureness of heart in the real world. Check this out.
“Some dreamers claim that in order to have a pure heart, people have to hide in a corner, enter a monastery or convent, or seek the solitude of the desert. They claim people shouldn’t think worldly thoughts or spend any time on secular matters. Instead, all their thoughts should be about heaven. These dreamers deceive both themselves and others with their mistaken notions. They lead people astray and do a lot of damage. Scripture talks about having pure thoughts and a pure heart in a way that is consistent with being a spouse, loving and caring for your family, and doing everything a parent does. In fact, God insists that we fulfill these responsibilities. Whatever God commands can’t be impure. In fact, it’s this very purity that allows us to see God.

Even dirty and unpleasant work, such as shoveling manure or washing diapers, is pure and holy work if it comes from a pure heart.”
I really relate to this. After all, I worked my way through Bible School with one of those manure shoveling jobs (literally). That is where I learned how to practice this verse, keeping my heart pure and seeing God in the everyday events of my life.