ALL INCLUSIVE LOVE

Eph.3:18,19 – Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!

Ever since the beginning of our fallen race there has been discord and division among the people of the world. In Genesis there was Cain killing Abel and then the scattering of the nations at Babel. We have been dealing with division and racial strife since the beginning of mankind. Some think it is based on color but history proves otherwise. In Burundi we were horrified as the Hutu and Tutsi tribes decimating each other. In Europe there was the Croatians and the Serbians. Today, the Sunni and the Shia in the Islamic world are at each other’s throats.

The strife amongst people is spiritual. We are not only alienated from God as a result of the fall of man, we are alienated from one another. The answer lies not in war or in peace talks. The solution to this strife is the love of God poured on us and in us. Only a change in our nature can finally solve this problem.

I have seen the fruit of the outpouring of the love of God with my own eyes as the Lord has allowed me to visit the nations of the world preaching the gospel of Jesus. In Korea, I have seen thousands of South Korean Christians praying for hours for the restoration of their country. In Japan I have seen ancient hatred between the Koreans and the Japanese disappear in the presence of the Lord. In Russia, I witnessed hundreds of Americans preaching to the Russians as the walls of distrust vanished in the atmosphere of His love as Russians streamed into the kingdom of God. In Africa, I have seen Christians and pastors from many different tribes come together and worship the Lord and share the communion that flows from the cross. I have seen the Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans dancing together in the joy of the Lord. But my greatest experience of this love that knows no bounds is the privilege of pastoring a multi-racial church in New Orleans. “How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into us until we are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!”

GRACE – GRACE – GRACE

Jn.1:16 – And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

This is an attempt by John to describe infinite. Describing infinite is actually an exercise in futility (its one of the reasons the Lord gave us a prayer language) but those who have tasted grace keep trying to describe it anyway. John says that in knowing Christ we begin to have grace (unlimited, matchless grace) poured out on us. The Lord being an uncreated, infinite being has attributes that are infinite. In other words, grace is unending. By putting ourselves in a receiving mode to receive grace for grace we first find ourselves consumed with Him. He comes to us in the person of the Holy Spirit and one touch leaves us breathless. We were created as spirit beings, made in His image. Because of our uniqueness nothing less than infinite will satisfy our hungry hearts. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes it.

“So Christ is the greatest treasure of his church: he is their pearl of great price; he is the church’s portion and chief good. In him is contained all the church’s fullness; “Of his fullness she receives, and grace for grace” [John 1:16]. All her happiness, all the covenant blessings that she hath, are bound up in Christ. The church hath the Holy Spirit, which is the sum of all her good, no otherwise than through Christ and in Christ. God hath given the Spirit, not by measure unto him and from him [John 3:34]; it flows to his members, as the oil on Aaron’s head “went down to the skirts of his garments” [Psalms 133:2]. Particularly, ’tis only in and through Christ that the church hath holiness, expressed in the law of God, and happiness, expressed by the pot of manna.”

So the point that I am trying to make is this; there is more of God available for all of us than any of us can begin to imagine. Putting ourselves in a receiving mode is where this grace for grace begins. The Passion Translation brings out the results of this life of soaking in grace for grace. Jn.1:16 – TPT – “And now out of his fullness we are fulfilled!

And from him we receive grace heaped upon more grace!” So as the Lord heaps on us grace upon grace upon grace, our hearts are finally filled and satisfied to the full. GRACE – GRACE – GRACE

FILLED TO OVERFLOWING

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Have you ever been so filled that there is no other option, you have to overflow? I guess what is really important is this question: what exactly are you filled with? In today’s verse John is describing an overflowing kind of filling. He describes fulness or overflowing as grace upon grace. So much love poured on us that it is impossible to contain it, we have to overflow. John is talking about God’s love for us and how it fills us until it begins to spill out all around us. Here is a quote from Spurgeon describing the overflowing joy that comes with being filled.

“Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of his society.”

The amazing thing about Bunyan’s words, they were written from prison. He was overflowing with a joy bigger than prison walls. It is striking that John who was exiled and later martyred and Bunyan who was imprisoned for preaching Christ both spoke of a fulness of God that transcended the rest of their lives. Nothing this world could throw at them could disrupt their joy, it was supernatural and untouchable. John Trappe also talks about this fulness found only in Christ.

“Grace for grace – “Which is both repletive and diffusive; not only of plenty, but of bounty; not a fulness of abundance only, but of redundance too. In Christians is an abundance of vessels, but in Christ, is the fount, these differ (say the schoolmen) as fire and that which holds the fire. Take a drop from the ocean, and it is so much the less; but the fulness of the fire is such, that light a thousand torches at it, it is not diminished.”

This word repletive means to satisfy, satiate, or provide something in abundance. So this fulness is provided in extreme measures and diffused everywhere we go. Redundance describes an excessive amount, way more than necessary. Trappe is describing overflow as pouring out in extreme measures everywhere we go. This is the story of Christmas, the Word took on human flesh that I can be filled to overflowing with the fulness of His grace. Merry Christmas !!!!!

“GO GET A SHOVEL”

WHEN HIS TREASURE MATCHES OUR DEEPEST POVERTY

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS –

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.” MATT. 13:44

There is a treasure that meets our deepest poverty. I still can remember it, or should I say FEEL IT. The deep, dark cavern of my soul, it always wanted yet was never full, reached out and came up with empty, screamed but the cry never was heard. That described the BC of my life. Futile, empty and worthless.

Somehow all along Christ was leading me to the greatest pearl of all, the one hidden in the field that was worth selling out for. My deepest poverty was met with his greatest treasure. I pray it doesn’t take a life time to find that which you already know.

McClaren Commentary says, “There are a great many other precious things in this world-human loves, earthly ambitions of noble and legitimate kinds. No one but a fool will deny the convenience and the good of having a competency of this world’s possessions. But all these have this miserable defect, or rather limitation, that they each satisfy some little corner of a man’s nature, and leave all the rest, if I may so say, like the beasts in a menagerie whose turn has not yet come to be fed, yelping and growling while the keeper is at the den of another one.” The sky to-night may be filled with galaxies of stars but better one sun than a million twinkling stars that fill the heavens, and yet do not scatter the darkness. Oh, brethren, to have one aim, one love, one treasure, one Christ, one God-there is the secret of blessedness. Thus, the unity of the treasure is the supreme excellence of the treasure.There is but one wealth which meets the whole of human nature!”

Sometimes I pity those that have “grown up in church” hearing about God yet the treasure seems concealed. God’s treasure comes to the world in a form which to a great many people veils or hides its preciousness. One can go through their whole life hearing sermons about what God can do for you, what you should do for him, and worst of all your familiarity with the word blinds you to his power in the here and now. Jesus! In whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! What a pearl that is hidden right before us! We treat his ways, his words as insignificant.

Go buy the field my friend, the one you found the treasure in. Sell all the other cheap imitations, the glam, the glitter! Go get a shovel and start digging.

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SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.

FALLING UNDER THE POWER

John 18:4-6 – So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and *said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He *said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

I used to have a really hard time with people falling under the power. It seemed forced to me. I guess seeing some evangelists shoving people over didn’t help much. All of that has changed for me now. The change started when I was caught by surprise by falling on the floor for myself. I was embarrassed at first, I had fallen down and couldn’t get up. After laying on the floor for a while I began to yield. As I was laying on the floor, I became more and more aware of a strong presence on me and frankly I no longer wanted to get up. I was hooked. From that point on I began to go on my search in the Bible and into historic Revival to see if this manifestation of the Spirit was tenable. Of course the Bible is full of examples. Today’s verse from the Garden of Gethsemane saw the soldiers coming to arrest Jesus fall down under the power. Of course there was Saul of Tarsus rolling in the road on the Road to Damascus and Daniel in his time of fasting and prayer doing a face-plant in the dirt. We also can’t forget John on the isle of Patmos, he fell on his face when he saw Jesus shine like the noonday sun. The Bible is full of these examples.

As for historic Revival, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Finney experienced this phenomenon in their meetings. People would often fall into an unconscious state and be there for extended periods of time. This manifestation was also common at the Azusa Street Revival, the Charismatic Renewal, as well as the outpourings under John Wimber in the 1980’s. This is nothing new and has been in the church from the beginning.

What happens when someone is under the anointing experiencing this manifestation? I like to call it the Holy Ghost operating table. Whatever needs to come out is removed by the Lord. He can heal us physically, restore us emotionally, bring deliverance from oppression and addictions into our lives.

He also pours into us. Whatever we are lacking for the task at hand He can add to us. He is passing out gifts for ministry and even giving us instruction and creative ideas. He pours into us exactly what we need.

So what shall we do? I say press in until you are lost in His glory, that’s where it all begins to happen.

“MAKING FULL TO OVERFLOWING”

MERRY MONDAY-

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” EPH.3:19

The world shows up empty everyday. Doctor’s offices are filled with patients getting opioids subscribed that lead to addiction. Prisons are over crowded while mental patients wait for a bed, our courts are jammed with lawsuits, and heinous crimes never stop. Young America continues to spend thousands of dollars to get taught by professors bombastically teaching them on whatever hip current idea that comes into their head. Thank God there is another way-Christ lived out in our lives; day by day. He comes with abundance and makes the crooked go straight. Yes, it can be that simple. By the end of this year Frank and I will have pastored 40 years, have run a school for 35 years, fed the poor for 30 years, put on a drama to teens for 20 years, and now run a rehab for 10 years. In each of these situations we have been personally hands on, we have watched Christ come in the worst case scenarios. He doesn’t show up unprepared, put out, or out of touch. If the person is hungry and desperate, Christ comes and brings HIS FULLNESS and overflows abundantly into our issues.

Christ comes to fill us up because we have been running on empty for far too long and we have tasted its emptiness. His love comes unencumbered and unabridged. Christ has the uncanny ability to prepare, expand, and strengthen our capacity to receive more of his love. He imparts to us his own character and glory taking out of us the old character and canceling out the stain of the past. In Luther’s words he says, “he alone completely rules and works in us” and are “filled in every way that he can make full”.

We remain no more in defect but instead he imparts his perfection to the church, making us a partaker of His Divine Nature! We become a sign and a wonder that causes judges, doctors and scientists to stand in awe. Another author named ALFORD says; All the fulness of the Godhead abides in Christ, Col. 2:9. Christ then abiding in your hearts, ye, being raised up to the comprehension of God’s mercy in Him and of His love, will be filled, even as God is full—each in your degree, but all to your utmost capacity, with Divine wisdom, might, and love.”

If you need a word picture; imagine ships are filled with freight, merchandise, sailors, oarsmen, and soldiers; or the animals filling up Noah’s Ark, or a city filled with inhabitants, houses and towering buildings. A gap that is filled or baskets that are overflowing. Do you get the picture yet? God comes to fill you up! Wholly flooded and filled!

MY CUP OVERFLOWS

Ps.23:5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

The Shepherds Psalm speaks of the tenderness that is given to all of the Lord’s followers, we are the sheep of His pasture. He is our Good Shepherd. This is the revelation David had of the Lord, we see it throughout His life of worship. Today’s verse speaks of the overflowing cup of His anointing that flows from this life of intimacy. John Trappe speaks of the redundancy, or the repetitive nature of the outpouring of His grace on our lives.

“My cup runneth over.” He had not only a fulness of abundance, but of redundance. Those that have this happiness must carry their cup upright, and see that it overflows into their poor brethren’s emptier vessels.”

Trappe also says that this anointing is not just for us, we are to pour it out into our needy brothers and sisters all around us. Actually Trappe says it just overflows into ministry. William Secker compares this cup to liquor. It numbs us to the hostility and pain of the world and makes us sensitive to our Shepherd’s voice. This spiritual liquor is the very substance of our ministry to the hurting. Here is how Secker says it.

“My cup runneth over.” Wherefore doth the Lord make your cup run over, but that other men’s lips might taste the liquor? The showers that fall upon the highest mountains, should glide into the lowest valleys.“Give, and it shall be given you,” is a maxim little believed. Luke 6:38.

The inebriating nature of the new wine of the Spirit has been seen in every generation. Augustine said it was the cup that the martyrs drank from. Apparently the intoxicating nature of the overflowing cup empowered believers to face and endure persecution in all ages. Here are Augustine’s words.

“My cup runneth over.” Or as it is in the Vulgate: And my inebriating chalice, how excellent it is! With this cup were the martyrs inebriated, when, going forth to their passion, they recognized not those that belonged to them; not their weeping wife, not their children, not their relations; while they gave thanks and said, “I will take the cup of salvation!”

We have no idea what tomorrow holds or who the Lord will put in our path for ministry. How can I be ready for whatever? I will lift up the cup of David to the Good Shepherd until it overflows.

Paupers and Kings

John 1:14,16 ¶ 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. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

When I accepted Christ into my life in 1973 I had no idea the magnitude of what had happened. I had just begun to connect the dots of my sin, the cross, and forgiveness of my sin. As I began to read my Bible and grow in the Spirit I began to catch glimpses of what John called, in today’s passage, as fullness. It started as I began to see the fullness of God in this man, Jesus of Nazareth. As I continued on in my spiritual journey I began to think the unthinkable. This fullness was now in me. Like John said, ‘of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace upon grace’. I now find myself in the most amazing life, the fullness of God is my portion. He fills and overflows our hearts with a life that we never thought possible on this side of heaven. Just think about it, if His presence is so overwhelming that we sometimes have our breath taken away and can’t stand in His presence in this life; what will heaven be like? Unthinkable!!! Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on this fullness in Christ.

“Read these words until you are gripped by the transcendent fullness of Christ. Let the Spirit lead you into worship appropriate to the One in whom all fullness dwells. I may receive a purse containing very little or nothing at all, or it may contain a substantial amount. Thus it is with Christians. Some receive Christ in terms of the forgiveness of sin and the hope of heaven, yet know little of His fullness and the wealth that is to be found in Him. Others will sacrifice everything in order to be able to say, “From the fullness of his grace we have … received one blessing after another.” Paul was such a one. He said, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”….Have you come to know the Christ in whom such fullness dwells? Or do you live as a pauper, largely dependent on the world for your joy?”

What a question, it begs to be asked again. Are you satisfied living as a pauper dependent on the world for your source of joy or have you discovered the fullness that fills us now?!?!

CHRISTMAS FULNESS

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John 1:16,17 ¶ And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

One of the things I am reflecting on this Christmas is fulness. John spoke about the fulness of God that we receive by grace through faith. This is more than just I believe I am filled with fulness, this is actually experiencing fulness itself. John is describing a profound spiritual experience in his opening comments in his gospel. He is giving us more than information, John is describing the reason Jesus came. He came that we could experience, or taste for ourselves, the fulness of God. John said that he had not only received fulness, he is describing fulness overflowing; that’s exactly what grace upon grace is. Matthew Henry describes ‘grace upon grace’ like this.

“The fulness of this grace. Grace for grace is abundance of grace, grace upon grace, one grace heaped upon another; as skin for skin is skin after skin, even all that a man has. It is a blessing poured out, that there shall not be room to receive it, plenteous redemption: one grace a pledge of more grace….It is such a fulness as is called the fulness of God which we are filled with.”

So have you tasted this fulness that John proclaimed and Henry relished? Taste and see for yourself and delight yourself in Christmas cheer. Here are some thoughts from John Piper on this fulness of God.

“Paul prays that we would experience Christ’s fullness—not just know about it, but be filled with it. Here is the way I hear him praying for me: he prays that I “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [I] may be filled with all the fullness of God”. “The “fullness of God” is experienced, he says, as we are given the “strength to comprehend” the love of Christ in its height and depth and length and breadth. That is, in its fullness. This is remarkable: the fullness of God is the spiritual comprehension (experience) of the fullness of the love of Christ. It fills the Son of God and pours out on us.”

So Merry Christmas, or be filled with the fulness of God. That’s what makes Christmas so merry, we can delight ourselves in His grace upon grace.