“ENORMOUS EYE GIGANTIC HEAD” 

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MERRY WEDNESDAY BY PARRIS

“But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own.” 1 COR. 12
Paul never stopped developing the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory. Not only did he explain how to use the spiritual gifts to build up the body but had a beautiful revelation of the bride of Christ. Paul saw the union between man and women resemble the relationship between Christ and the church. Paul saw the church working together as a spiritual house.

We can say this beautiful dance started with the Trinity. Tim Kelley in his book “The Reason For God, says, “The Trinity is described as perichoresis – to dance or flow around, mutual movement, mutual indwelling. Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love. Creation is a dance with the inner life of the Trinity written all through it. We lost the dance in the refusal to serve God and participate in his community – Adam onward. We return to the dance through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.”

When we are touched by God we are brought into the dance of the Trinity and in turn we become a part of the Body of Christ. The Message Bible stresses “You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”: apostles prophets teachers miracle workers healers helpers organizers those who pray in tongues. But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.”

Part of us becoming whole is not just being born again, that becomes the doorway into a whole new world or as Jesus said, the kingdom of God. The Message continues when it says, “Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary.” It will be important as a Christian to understand that the very thing you need to grow in and be whole is residing in another Christian. God designed the dance of the Trinity to participate and when we do, the gifts are poured out.

I pray 2017 paints a new world of fellowship, less Facebook, more church going, less TV and using your gifts for the body of Christ.

EUCHARISTEO

1Cor. 11:24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

What an incredible picture. The eternal Son of God had become a man, He was preparing Himself and His followers for the horrible day that would follow, the suffering and death of Jesus of Nazareth. What was this strange meal all about? It was about giving thanks to the Lord in the midst of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Jesus gave thanks and lifted up the jewish cup of salvation or the cup of thanksgiving. He was giving a thank offering to the Lord. He was introducing the eucharistic meal. Eucharist comes from the greek word eucharisteo which Jesus used in His prayer, it means to give thanks. He was thanking God for the fulfillment of God’s sovereign plan, He was about to die for the sins of mankind. Here is a short explanation from Vincent’s Word Book.
“In post-apostolic and patristic writers, Eucharist was the technical term for the Lord’s Supper as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for all the gifts of God, especially for the ” unspeakable gift,” Jesus Christ. By some of the fathers of the second century the term was sometimes applied to the consecrated elements. The formula of thanksgiving cited in ” The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” is, for the cup first, ‘We give thanks to Thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus, Thy servant: to Thee be the glory forever.” And for the bread: ” We give thanks to Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus Thy servant: to Thee be the glory forever. As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and, gathered together, became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy Kingdom, for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.”
This communion meal is the very foundation for our life of eucharisteo or life of thanksgiving. We see Christ in all of our whole life. He is there in our trials, our suffering, our healing, and our restoration. Receiving communion gives us a chance to center our lives, to regain our focus. It is by communion with God through giving thanks that we are able to see all of His blessings that literally overflow our lives.

FINALLY DONE WITH SIN

Heb. 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

The daily offering of animal sacrifices was exhausting. Thousands of animals being slaughtered again and again was a constant reminder of the sinfulness of man and the consequences of that sin. Man was banished from fellowship with God. The very reason we were created, to know and enjoy God, was prevented by our sinful condition. The sacrifices were a daily reminder of that painful situation, the holy of holies kept the hope alive that one day man could walk with God again. In the tabernacle the blazing glory of God’s presence was present, the veil was the constant reminder to stay away. The blood of Christ ended all of that. By His one sacrifice sin was done away with. The way into the holiest was now finally open. He put sin away, animal offerings could never do that, the blood of God’s Son accomplished it. John said it like this in 1John 3:5 “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin”. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on the power of Christ’s blood.

“the sacrifice of Christ was the oblation of himself; he offered his own blood, truly called, by virtue of the hypostatical union, the blood of God; and therefore of infinite value. From the frequent repetition of the legal sacrifices. This showed the imperfection of that law; but it is the honor and perfection of Christ’s sacrifice that, being once offered, it was sufficient to all the ends of it; and indeed the contrary would have been absurd, for then he must have been still dying and rising again, and ascending and then again descending and dying; and the great work had been always in fieri—always doing, and always to do, but never finished, which would be as contrary to reason as it is to revelation, and to the dignity of his person: But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
Sin has been finally put away by the death of God’s only Son. How does that effect me and you? First, I am no longer a slave of sin. The chains of my slavery are gone. Secondly, I can enjoy God and His love for me. This is why I was born, my purpose in life is finally being realized.

CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE

Heb. 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Have you ever wondered why Christianity claims an exclusive access to God? Many religions are more accepting of one another but not true Christianity. Actually, religious observations all have one ultimate goal, to sooth the conscience. All of mankind are sinners at our basic core and religion is man’s attempt at soothing that nagging, guilty conscience. Everything from the chanting with the gopi beads of the Hindus to the rigid prayers and rules of the Muslims and the many religions that offer food and incense before their graven images; all of it speaks of a guilty conscience. Ancient judaism pointed to the final solution with its animal sacrifices to atone for the sins of man. As the New Testament teaches, the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats can never take away sin. These Old Testament offerings only spoke of a coming sacrifice that would finally take away sin and cleanse our sin stained conscience. Of course that offering is the blood of God’s only Son who died for all of us on the cross. Here are some thoughts from John Owen on the guilty conscience of man.
“Sin affects all the faculties of the soul, and it defiles the conscience in a special way, so that “consciences are corrupted”. The conscience alone brings a sense of guilt, which leads to fear and a dread about approaching God’s presence. It was Adam’s conscience that reduced Adam to hiding himself from God as his eyes were opened through a sense of the guilt of sin….So the cleansing of consciences from acts that lead to death removes the guilt of sin through the blood of Christ. Conscience is used to represent our whole spirits, souls, and bodies that are all to be cleansed and sanctified. To cleanse our consciences is to cleanse our whole being.”
This is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is faith in the sacrificial blood of Jesus that cleanses our conscience. With the guilt gone, we can now approach our God with confidence. Rather than going through a system of religious observances we can come into God’s presence by faith. Our righteousness is not based on what we have done, it is based on the righteous life of Jesus Christ. Not only can we approach God, we can serve Him now with a different motivation. Rather than doing religious activities to please God, we see that He is already pleased because of the righteousness of His Son. We serve Him not out of duty but purely because of a love for Him birthed in us by the power of redemption.

HIS OWN BLOOD

Heb. 9:12 and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption.

Have you noticed the more modern and ‘relevant’ church becomes, the more it loses it’s power and its relevance in our lives. For example, have you heard a sermon recently on the power of the blood of Jesus? Do you understand the significance of the communion table and the power that resides there? The blood of Jesus is at the heart of this struggle. Without the blood we have lost our power. The mysteries of God are all connected to the precious blood of Jesus. His blood speaks to us today; what is it saying. First, that God became a man. He took upon Himself flesh and bones to redeem a fallen race. Secondly, it speaks of forgiveness. It is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from our sin. It also speaks of the justice of God. It pleased the Father to bruise the Son because in His suffering God’s judgement on sin was complete, justice was satisfied. The blood speaks to us about the wickedness of man as man poured out his anger on the precious Son of God. The blood also speaks about redemption and how we can all have a brand new start. The list is endless; the blood speaks about the healing of our bodies, deliverance from the curse of poverty, and reconciliation between man and man. It also points us to the best benefit of all, access into intimacy and fellowship with God. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on the blood of Jesus.
“His own blood. I know of no word in the Bible or in human speech that contains such mysteries! In it are concentrated the mysteries of the incarnation, in which our God took flesh and blood; of the obedience unto death, in which the blood was shed; of the love that passeth knowledge, that purchased us with His own blood; of the victory over every enemy, and the everlasting redemption; of the resurrection and the entrance into heaven; of the atonement and the reconciliation and the justification that came through it; of the cleansing and perfecting of the conscience, of the sprinkling of the heart and the sanctifying the people. Through that blood Christ entered once for all into heaven; through that blood we enter too, and have our home in the Holiest of All.”
So just call me old fashioned. I still like my Bible (the one with real leather and paper), I love the cross on the wall in church, preaching from a pulpit, altar calls, and worshipping until the glory falls. I especially like to hear about the precious blood of Jesus.

SHOCKING REJECTION

Rom. 9:3-5 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

This is quite a shocking statement from Paul; he actually says he would give his eternity with God as an exchange for the conversion of Israel. He continues to describe the Jews and their lack of appreciation for the blessing that was on their nation as the people of God. His list of the blessings that were treated as insignificant are actually quite disturbing, they are strangely familiar to the common attitudes in the modern church.

First, Paul says they did not appreciate their adoption. The nation of Israel had been chosen by the Lord to be adopted into God’s family. It’s hard to think of a greater honor. Today, Christians are the adopted sons and daughters of God. He has sent the Spirit of adoption into our hearts. Rather than appreciating this incredible blessing, we often would rather look and act like the rest of the pagan world. Next, the Jews took the Glory, the manifest presence of God, as unimportant. The local church is now intended to be the place where the Glory of the Lord is on display. This is the reason the church exists, to display God’s glory. Too often this is not acknowledged and even treated as some sort of fringe fanaticism. Paul continued to say that the Covenants were not appreciated. The Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel starting with their father Abraham. The Jews disrespected that covenant and treated it as insignificant. Today, we have received a new and better covenant established by the blood of the Son of God. Shockingly, this blood sacrifice, the New Testament of Jesus Christ is often treated with disrespect by the church and the blood is often ignored because of its offensive nature. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. These benefits are the very heart of our faith and were the very heart of the Jewish heritage. Rather than shunning these benefits we should embrace and relish our special blessings that belong to us.
To be continued….

THE GLORY OF THE SON

Heb.1:1,2 – God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, Hath at the end of these days spoken onto us in his Son.

Human beings are amazing creatures. Our whole make-up is incredibly complex. God Himself says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Because of the uniqueness that comes from being human we experience an insatiable hunger for satisfaction. Most can’t really put their finger on it but there is a distinct longing for something outside of ourselves to complete us. Many think that their quest will be over if they can only meet that perfect person to make them complete. The inevitable result is disappointment. Another person can never complete us. We were created to be completed only in the presence of God Himself. The frustrating dilemma we find ourselves in, our sins have separated us from the Lord. That is why the Lord became a human. In Christ we see the glory of the Lord. Seeing and knowing Him finally brings us to that place of rest we have looked for all our lives. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on today’s verses.
“God hath spoken! The magnificent portal by which we enter into the temple in which God is to reveal His glory to us! We are at once brought into the presence of God Himself. The one object of the Epistle is to lead us to God, to reveal God, to bring us into contact with Himself. Man was created for God. Sin separated from God. Man feels his need, and seeks for God. This Epistle comes with the gospel message of redemption, to teach us where and how to find God. Let all who thirst for God, for the living God, draw nigh and listen.”
The book of Hebrews opens up this new kind of life made available to us in Christ. Only this life behind the veil can complete us. When Christ was on earth as a man the glory of God was among us cloaked by His humanity. Today, the veil has been taken away. The glory of the Lord is clearly seen because of His death, burial, resurrection and Ascension to the right hand of the Father. All our unrealized expectations are finally met, they are realized in the glory of the Son.

FINISH THE RACE

2 COR. 5:8-10 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Do you ever think of your death? When Jonathan Edwards was nineteen he made one of his life resolutions “to think often of the day of his death”. I have to confess, I haven’t thought about my death very often. Just yesterday, I attended the funeral of my dear friend Steve Solomon. As a result I have been thinking about the day of all of our deaths. My conclusion, life is short. Parris and I were speaking of this yesterday. We remembered we have only known Steve for twenty two years. There is a good chance we will see him in the next twenty two. What is my point? Life is short and our time here is precious. We should all live as if we are approaching our own finish line. The great day where all of us will stand before the Lord is near. Here are some comments from Jonathan Edwards about David Brainerd spoken at Brainerd’s funeral.

“In this dispensation of Providence, God puts us in mind of our mortality, and forewarns us that the time is approaching when we must be absent from the body, and “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one of us may receive the things done in the body, according to what we have done, whether it be good or bad”. Thus God sanctified, and made meet for his use, that vessel that he intended to make eminently a vessel of honor in his house, and which he had made of large capacity, having endowed him with very uncommon abilities and gifts of nature (speaking of Brainerd). He was a singular instance, of a ready invention, natural eloquence, easy flowing expression, sprightly apprehension, quick discerning, and very strong memory; and yet of a very penetrating genius, close and clear thought, and piercing judgment.”
Edwards seemed to have been challenged by young Brainerd’s life. We have been challenged by Steve Solomon’s. We all miss those who have gone on before us. The best way we can honor them is to pick up their banner and run the race. The finish line is in sight, we need to finish this race.

DON’T SERVE THE LORD

Acts 17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Somehow we always get it backwards. It has been said the kingdom of God is that upside down kingdom, I tend to agree. The natural, unrenewed mind wants to be good or pleasing to God by doing. We feed the hungry, visit the prisoners, intercede for the lost, counsel the confused, tithe, fast… have I forgotten anything? I get tired just thinking about it all. The problem with that approach is we receive credit because of all our deeds. That’s not what glorifies God. What glorifies God is Him serving or ministering to us. That was the ministry of Jesus, He is the Giver we are the receivers. There is a fine balance here, we serve from a different perspective. We have received everything from His hand. We still do all of those other things, it is just somehow different. We could never think of taking credit for anything. Everything we have came from Him. Here is how John Piper explains tis.

“The difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won’t enlist you in his service unless you are healthy and Jesus won’t enlist you unless you are sick: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”. Christianity is fundamentally convalescence (“Pray without ceasing” = Keep buzzing the nurse). Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions. The commands of the Bible are more like a doctor’s health prescription than an employer’s job description.Therefore, our very lives hang on not working for God. Workmen get no gifts. They get their due. If we would have the gift of justification, we dare not work. God is the Workman in this affair. And what He gets is the trust of His client and the glory of being the benefactor of grace, not the beneficiary of service.”

So we have to be delivered from serving; we have to be changed from Martha to Mary. Somehow I think Mary spent her life doing what we would call ministry or Christian service. It just has a different feel about it when it all starts from Him. He is the Giver, I am the receiver. It could never be different from that.

FATHERLESS GENERATION

Gal. 4:6,7 ¶ And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

One of the great tragedies of this generation is the absence of fathers. The fatherless family is a picture of the breakdown of our culture. I was blessed to grow up in a home with a mother and a father that stayed together throughout their lives. Now our family wasn’t perfect, far from it, but there is a huge advantage and blessing to having a strong father in place in our lives. All of us have a need for the love, protection, and example of a father. This mirrors the basic need all of us have at the very core of our being. We all long to know our heavenly Father. Jesus promised His disciples before He left that He would not leave them as orphans. He said He would send the Holy Spirit into their lives. Paul called this the Spirit of adoption or the Spirit of His Son. If you are a Christian, you have received this Spirit of sonship. You have become an heir, an heir of God. Listen to Adam Clarke’s powerful words on this verse.

“Thou art no more a servant. Thou who hast believed in Christ art no longer a slave, either under the dominion of sin or under obligation to the Mosaic ritual; but a son of God, adopted into the heavenly family. And if a son, then an heir. Having a right to the inheritance, because one of the family, for none can inherit but the children; but this heirship is the most extraordinary of all: it is not an heirship of any tangible possession, either in heaven or earth; it is not to possess a part or even the whole of either, it is to possess Him who made all things; not God’s works, but God himself: heirs of GOD through Christ.”

What an amazing reality. We are no longer Fatherless!!!. We have been adopted into His family. His Spirit is in our lives. God Himself has become our treasure. This is the answer to the dissatisfaction and restlessness that has become epidemic in our world. We are no longer orphans; God is our Father, Christ is our brother, and we are sons of God.