HEAVEN CAN’T WAIT

HEAVEN CAN’T WAIT

Rev. 4:2-3 ¶ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

The Apostle John was doing his best to describe the indescribable. He was seeing the very radiance of the Glory of the Son of God, there is nothing in this creation that even comes close to His beauty. You see, the beauty of The Lord is more than just a physical beauty, it is the very goodness of His nature on display. His inward perfection is shining out in a brilliant display that John said was like an emerald rainbow. The Apostle Paul was also caught up into what he called the third heaven. He spent the rest of His life trying to find words to describe what he could only say was unspeakable. Have you ever wondered what really makes heaven heaven? It has to be more than the golden streets. It is not just the eternal aspect of this incredible place. I don’t think its even the prospect of seeing our loved ones. No, what makes heaven heaven is none of these things. These are only the shadows, the substance of the joy of heaven is Jesus Himself. Without Him there would obviously not be any heaven. Charles Spurgeon also tried to describe the radiance of the Sun of Righteousness. Check out his thoughts.

“In heaven there shall be no interruptions from care or sin; no weeping shall dim our eyes; no earthly business shall distract our happy thoughts; we shall have nothing to hinder us from gazing for ever on the Sun of Righteousness with unwearied eyes. Oh, if it be so sweet to see him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face for ever, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one’s eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest day, when wilt thou dawn? Rise, O unsetting sun! The joys of sense may leave us as soon as they will, for this shall make glorious amends. If to die is but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is indeed gain, and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory.”

Now the only question left to ask is this, who will be in this place called heaven? Those who have never been born again can’t even imagine what the attraction is. Their thoughts are only on earthly things. Will there be marriage in heaven, will there be pets? Can I eat whatever I want? Actually none of these things will even come to mind in that day. Our attention and senses will be so overwhelmed with the radiance of Christ that the other circumstances won’t even come to mind. For those who have never been born again, heaven really has no attraction. For those who know Christ, they can hardly think of anything else.

THE ROSE

Rose of Sharon

Song 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon,
And the lily of the valleys.

The beauty and majesty of the Lord is all around us, what a shame that only a relatively small number of people can see this stunning beauty. It can be seen in the towering trees and the flowing rivers, in the brilliant sun and the reflected glory of the moon, in the green grass and the blue sky, His Glory is spilling out all around us. All of His creation bares some mark of His image, these are not just accidental similarities, they were created for this purpose, heaven and earth are declaring the Glory of the Lord. Matthew Henry brings this out in his comments about the Lily of the Valley and the Rose of Sharon.

“He that is the Son of the Highest, the bright and morning star, calls and owns himself the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys, to express his presence with his people in this world, the easiness of their access to him, and the beauty and sweetness which they find in him, and to teach them to adorn themselves with him, as shepherds and shepherdesses, when they appeared gay, were decked with roses and lilies, garlands and chaplets of flowers. The rose, for beauty and fragrance, is the chief of flowers, and our Savior prefers the clothing of the lily before that of Solomon in all his glory. Christ is the rose of Sharon, where probably the best roses grew and in most plenty, the rose of the field, denoting that the gospel salvation is a common salvation; it lies open to all; whoever will may come and gather the rose-buds of privileges and comforts that grow in the covenant of grace. He is not a rose locked up in a garden, but all may come and receive benefit by him and comfort in him. He is a lily for whiteness, a lily of the valleys for sweetness, for those which we call so yield a strong perfume. He is a lily of the valleys, or low places, in his humiliation, exposed to injury. Humble souls see most beauty in him. Whatever he is to others, to those that are in the valleys he is a lily. He is the rose, the lily; there is none besides. Whatever excellence is in Christ, it is in him singularly and in the highest degree.”

Parris often speaks of an experience we had in Bulgaria in the Valley of the Roses. This place was a strange mix of human poverty and need and the incredible glory of the Lord. We were ministering at a gypsy village, it is one of the poorest areas in Europe. All around us was sickness, poverty, crime, and hopelessness. That’s when we smelled the incredible fragrance. It was the most beautiful smell of roses, it was everywhere. I don’t know why we hadn’t smelled it at first, but now it was everywhere. It was breathtaking, it was inescapable. This is the way our world is, surrounded by sickness, poverty, crime, and hopelessness; but to those that have been awakened, the unmistakeable fragrance of the Rose of Sharon.

THE ROSE OF SHARON

“I am the Rose of Sharon, I am the Lily of the valley” SOS 2:1
Merry Wednesday by Parris Bailey
I love springtime! Who doesn’t? In New Orleans it might just last a month before the sweltering heat sets in, but all around plants are budding. In fact even the large oak trees commands his presence with all the residue they leave on our sidewalks and cars. Christ in this passage is commanding His entrance! I am that I am! He invades us in our senses in all of His beauty. Spurgeon says, “Go walk around in the fields of heavenly contemplation. He is the rose but it is not given unto all men to perceive his fragrance. He is the fairest of lilies, but few are the eyes which have gazed upon his matchless purity. He stands before the world without form or comeliness, a root out of the dry ground, rejected by the vain, and despised by the proud.”
It is His pleasure that His called out ones should be delighted with, His beauty. We are not to treat Him like He is only our bare necessity but as a luxurious delicacy, a rare and ravishing delight like the rose and lily. Our thoughts of Him increase our love of Him. When we lift Him up He lifts us up out of the dung hill. Our sweet thoughts of Christ draw out our pain and sufferings. His fragrance and His whiteness purifies all our grievances. We should admire this spotless purity and this balm of Gilead.

“White and ruddy is my beloved,
All his heavenly beauties shine;
Nature can’t produce an object,
Nor so glorious, so divine;
He hath wholly won my soul to realms above.” (Spurgeon)

We have here a mixture of divine excellencies. Crimson red and bright white, his crimson blood flows freely upon us, His purity makes us white as snow. “And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” (Revelation 6:11 KJV)
Christ comes to arouse all our spiritual senses. Our eyes can see His beauty everyday. Even Solomon in all his glory can’t be compared to a lily. Too bad we see through a glass darkly. Often we do not see this anointed one walking among us. We miss the smell or beauty of the rose for our senses and our eyes have become dull or even worse, accustomed to His beauty. We must learn to look everywhere for Him. Though we don’t actually see Him in His physical form yet the sweet influence that flows from His love should permeant our very being. Christ is so lovely that He needs no beautifying. He will satisfy us to the very full and we must consider the daily need of this rose and this lily. Press this rose into your very bosom, let the oil of it stain your very heart. Find this precious lily of the valley and receive this purity into your spirit. It’s truly Springtime!

THE BEAUTY OF THE BRIDE

The Beauty of the Bride!

Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

Song of Solomon 1:9-11 “I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.”

God is the master builder, and what He starts He finishes. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts.” He is the author and the finisher of this good work, so it cannot miscarry. Whatever is wanting in the church, whatever is lacking, He will perfect it in beauty and holiness for He adds to it grace upon grace! Now that is some good preaching!
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people, He will beautify the humble with salvation.” Ps.149:4 John Gill says- “The church has her golden chain, or pearl necklace; which are either the graces of the Spirit, so linked together, that where there is one there are all; and which consists of those ten links, or pearls, faith, hope, love, repentance, humility, patience, self-denial, contentment in every state, spiritual knowledge, long-suffering, or forbearance; sincerity goes through them all. Or else the spiritual blessings of the covenant of grace, with which the church and all the saints are blessed in Christ at once, and with one and all; and which golden chain of salvation, one link of which cannot be broken.”
You are the Bride of Christ, He gives us beauty where there was ashes. I pray that you can put on Christ, seek Him in your chamber, shut the door and our precious Father will reward you.
“We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.” Spurgeon goes onto to say, “Christ here promises to the church a greater glory than as yet she had enjoyed; and seems to have respect to the Gospel dispensation; for by “golden borders” studded with “silver” may be meant the ordinances of the Gospel, preferable to those under the law; and therefore said to be of “gold [and] silver”, for their glory, splendor, and durableness: and the doctrines of the Gospel, being of more worth than thousands of gold and silver; are full of silver “specks” or “studs” of exceeding great and precious promises; a variety of them useful and pleasant; a greater measure of the grace of the Spirit may be here promised.”
The church’s beauty is not natural, but from the jewels where Christ adorns her. Now it is up to us to receive this beauty, to put on these precious ornaments or in other words to put on Christ. Your not the same, we have been given a divine nature. It is only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit that this precious truth can be revealed to you.
Father touch us in such a way that we can see the beauty of your Bride is my prayer.
Rev.21: 9-11 “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.”

TRUE BEAUTY

THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD

Psalms 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.

Over the last few years there has been a flurry of Christian songs written that describe the beauty of the Lord. I wonder how many of the listeners (or even the song writers for that matter) have a clue to what the beauty of the Lord is. Actually the beauty of the Lord could be described as a manifestation of the inner virtue of the Lord. It is His very goodness, His nature, that is displayed and described by David in his songs. David saw God’s glory in the beauty of the scripture, he saw it in creation, he saw it in demonstrations of His outpoured presence, especially at the tabernacle. Most of all David saw this beauty in the prophetic glimpses of Christ Himself. He spoke of His beauty as the Shepherd in Psalms 23, He displayed His suffering in Psalms 22, and He portrayed His beauty as the Heavenly High Priest in Psalm 110. No wonder David spoke about one thing and that one thing was to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Sam Storms speaks often of the beauty of the Lord. Here is something he said about God’s beauty displayed.

“In God alone are perfect proportion, harmony, unity, and diversity in delicate balance, stunning brilliance, and integrity. God is beautiful! If we were able to think of God as a painting, we would say that there are no random brush strokes, no clashes of colors. God is aesthetically exquisite. In God there is absolute resolution, integration, the utter absence of even one discordant element.
God has, as it were, placed Himself on display in the art gallery of the universe. He beckons His people, you and me, to stand in awe as we behold the symmetry of His attributes, the harmony of His deeds, the glory of His goodness, the overwhelming and unfathomable grandeur of His greatness; in a word, His beauty. God is infinitely splendid and invites us to come and bask in His beauty that we might enjoy Him to the fullest.”

This quest for the beauty of the Lord began for David when Samuel poured the oil on him and anointed him as the future king. 1Sam. 16:13 “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward.” From that day on, David was done. His taste of God’s beauty, displayed in His tangible anointing, had finished it for him. He had discovered what life was all about. He found that one moment in His presence was worth thousands of years elsewhere. Whether David was chasing sheep in the wilderness, fighting with his enemies, or prostrate before the Lord in the tabernacle, it made no difference. The anointing was on him now, he could see God’s beauty everywhere.

TO BEHOLD THE BEAUTY

To Behold the Beauty of The Lord
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

Ps. 27: 4 “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.”

The advantage of being not raised in church (well we went occasionally) and the flip side of “almost living at the church” helped me to love this scripture. Yes, His presence becomes the ONE THING that you desire. I have felt like I have been in one long continuous service since 1973! Just the other day, I was telling a sister about our meetings we had back in bible school. We went on for hours, singing and worshipping and hearing awesome messages from the pastors. (Does this sound familiar?)
What was it we that we were searching for, reaching for? I believe it is the beauty of the Lord. I read that His beauty never deceives, never fades, never loses its power and it never disappoints. How have you grown to love His beauty?
Even in Song of Solomon Chapter 5, we find the Bride being asked about her beloved, and she tries to describe His beauty. “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Let me tell you a little secret, the more you gaze at His beauty, you too will become “all glorious within”, for we too will bare the image of the heavenly. I have noticed another secret about His beauty, it’s everywhere. In you (behold, how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together), in the world around us, for even the trees begin to waves their hands like banners, and all creation groans.
Take a look at this quote; “Another thing, which we may call an element of beauty in God, is the combination of his various attributes in one harmonious whole. The colors of the rainbow are beautiful, when taken one by one: but there is a beauty in the rainbow, which arises not from any single tint; there is a beauty in it which would not exist if the several hues were assumed in succession — a beauty which is a result of their assemblage and collocation, and consists in their blended radiance. In like manner so the several perfections, which coexist and unite in the nature of God, produce a glorious beauty. Holiness is beautiful; mercy is beautiful; truth is beautiful. But, over and above, there is a beauty which belongs to such combinations and harmonies as the psalmist describes, when he tells us, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep,” (Andrew Gray)
And just think it all started with the one thing.

INFINITE BEAUTY

INFINITE BEAUTY

Psa. 27:4 ¶ One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple.

Parris and I often go to North Carolina to the Smoky Mountains to see Parris’s mom. The mountains of North Carolina are filled with the artistry of our great God. You can see His creativity in the different animals. From the curiosity of the raccoon to the wisdom of the fox. From the power in the black bear to the fierceness of the mountain lion. You hear His beauty in the songbirds, and His joy in the chattering of the squirrels. Every where you look, you see the infinite qualities of our lovely Lord. Have you ever wondered what David meant by the “beauty of the Lord”? David had seen something in his revelation of the Lord that was more stunning than anything he had ever known. Actually, what David had seen was a revelation of the inner nature of the Lord. When the Lord’s presence is manifest to someone, that is what they perceive, His inner character. It is not an outward vision of something seen with human eyes, it is a spiritual revelation, a glimpse of the excellency of His nature. All of creation is designed by the Creator to unveil the eternal attributes of our Glorious God. That is why nature can be so stunning, in it we see the eternal hand print of our God. Jonathan Edwards talks about the loveliness of God, here are some of his thoughts about these eternal qualities.
“But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honourable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore he is infinitely more honourable than they.”

As amazing as His creation is, it can’t come close to God’s greatest revelation of His beauty. He has displayed Himself in the greatest way in the person of His Son. Jesus is a glimpse into the blazing majesty of the Glory of the Lord. In Christ we see His wisdom in the plan of redemption and we see His compassion in His healing of the sick. We are stunned by the authority of the words of His teaching that flow from His mouth and are drawn by His gentleness and love. In Christ we see the lion and the lamb, the sin offering and the reigning King of Kings. As Solomon said, “He is altogether lovely”. Today, open up your eyes and open up your heart. He is quite near. He delights in unveiling His infinite beauty to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

SHAPING THE RIVER INTO WORDS

SHAPING THE RIVER INTO WORDS

My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words:
(Psalm 45:1 MSG)

What an incredible depiction of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a Christian, our hearts are bursting with the beauty and goodness of God. The next part of this verse is even more amazing, “spilling beauty and goodness”. This explosion of beauty and goodness is not random, it is not just poured out in some confusing aimless way. This verse describes our cooperation, “shaping the river into words”. Actually that is what our life as a believer is about, yielding to the River and shaping it’s flow into the different parts of our lives.
This process starts out as a new Christian, yielding to the Lord, shaping this new life into a life of purity and holiness. The impact of the River on our lives first brings conviction of sin, then forgiveness of sin, and finally freedom from the chains of sin. As we yield to the Lord, we take on the nature of the Holy Spirit. Of course this means that our lifestyle changes, the Holy Spirit is now living His new life in me.
As we continue to yield to the Lord, drinking daily of this River becomes a big part of our lives. When that begins to happen, our heart begins to burst it’s banks and we begin to find out what it really means to shape the River into words. One of the ways this happens is through the devotional prayer language we receive when our heart begins to burst it’s banks. Out of our innermost being begins to flow an unknown language, actually a language of the Spirit. Many times when we spend time in prayer, we will begin to get a sense of the greatness of our God. This experience comes as a result of the Holy Spirit beginning to move upon our lives. What do I do when that happens? I yield myself to the Lord. What do I mean by “yield”? I mean to turn the control of my tongue over to the Spirit, yielding control to the Lord. As I do that, I begin to pray in this beautiful language of mystery.
Have you ever wondered how the disciples knew it was okay when they began to speak in other tongues? After all, they had no precedent, no one had ever been speaking in tongues before that. The way they knew is the same way you will know, the Holy Spirit’s presence is so special and holy, and when He began to come upon them, yielding was no question or no problem. In today’s church, this pentecostal blessing has been ignored, and more often than we want to know, has been resisted and ridiculed. I believe that the Lord is stirring people with a hunger for this dynamic gift of the Holy Spirit. As His people embrace Him, He will begin to shape the River into words using our feeble lives as His vessel.

THE APPEARANCE OF THE KING

THE APPEARANCE OF THE KING

My heart *overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips; Therefore God has blessed you forever.
Ps.45:1,2

David often spoke of “seeing” the beauty of the Lord. He was describing prophetic visions of the glory of God. The Lord promised these visions would increase in the last days. As you get full of God, many times you will step into that prophetic realm. Jonathan Edwards spoke often of the burning and shining qualities of those touched by the Lord. He spoke of what he called “experimental Christianity”. He often said that true religion effected our hearts as well as our minds. In today’s passage, we see the connection between “seeing” the beauty of the Lord, and spiritual revelation. Charles Spurgeon expressed the connection between revelation and seeing the Lord in his comments on this passage.

“As though the King himself had suddenly appeared before him, the psalmist lost in admiration of his person, turns from his preface to address his Lord. A loving heart has the power to realize its object. The eyes of a true heart see more than the eyes of the head. Moreover, Jesus reveals himself when we are pouring forth our affections towards him. It is usually the case that when we are ready, Christ appears. If our heart is warm it is an index that the sun is shining, and when we enjoy his heat we shall soon behold his light. Thou art fairer than the children of men. In person, but especially in mind and character, the King of saints is peerless in beauty.”

Most people have never thought of the Lord as beautiful. They would describe Him as demanding and, if they were honest, far removed from our daily lives. This idea of beautiful comes from an encounter with the Lord. Have you ever tasted of the beauty and goodness of our God? We can see glimpses of this beauty all all around us. We see it a glorious sunset, a majestic mountain range, the amazing colors of the fall, but despite their beauty, these are only shadows of the real. The glory of God is seen when Jesus steps into your life. Until that time, we may have ideas or beliefs about Him and His goodness, but until we taste Him for ourselves, that is all we have, ideas. When you have that first encounter with the Lord, then you will declare like the psalmist, “You are fairer than the sons of men” because now you have tasted for yourself the goodness of God. From that day on, like David, long to be entranced by His prophetic vision.

BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL

BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL

You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips; Therefore God has blessed You forever.
Ps.45:2

This passage is incredibly expressive, these are the words of someone who has been caught off guard by someone’s beauty. The psalmist has been taken back by the sudden, breath taking glimpse of the Glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Albert Barnes expressed this “surprise” in his comments on this passage.

“The Hebrew word rendered “thou art fairer” – yaeya – is a very unusual term. It is properly a reduplication of the word meaning “beautiful,” and thus means to be very beautiful. It would be well expressed by the phrase “Beautiful – beautiful – art thou above the children of men.” It is the language of surprise – of a sudden impression of beauty – beauty as it strikes at the first glance – such as the eye had never seen before. The impression here is that produced by the general appearance or aspect of him who is seen as king. Afterward the attention is more particularly directed to the ” grace that is poured into his lips.” The language here would well express the emotions often felt by a young convert when he is first made to see the beauty of the character of the Lord Jesus as a Saviour: ” Beautiful; beautiful, above all men.”

Can you remember the breath taking, first look at he loveliness of Jesus? I remember being stunned by His gentleness and His power, His holiness and His grace. The overwhelming reality of Christ was beyond anything I had ever known. Charles Spurgeon draws our attention to the person of Jesus in his reflections on this verse.

“The Hebrew word is doubled, “Beautiful, beautiful art thou.” Jesus is so emphatically lovely that words must be doubled, strained, yea, exhausted before he can be described. Among the children of men many have through grace been lovely in character, yet they have each had a flaw; but in Jesus we behold every feature of a perfect character in harmonious proportion. He is lovely everywhere, and from every point of view, but never more so than when we view him in conjugal union with his church; then love gives a ravishing flush of glory to his loveliness.”

Throughout history, everyone who has met Him has had a similar response. He is one of a kind, unique in all His attributes, He is Altogether Lovely !!!