CHRISTS FINAL PROMISE

John 14:2,3 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

You can usually tell what is important to people when death draws near. I’ll never forget the day of my dad’s death. It was Thanksgiving Day 1987. My dad wasn’t interested in his bank account or any of his possessions that day, he wanted to be with his children. We all gathered around his bed as he said his last goodbyes and took his last breath.

Today’s verse is just that for Jesus, He is gathering with His friends for His last words before He died. In chapters 14-16 in John’s gospel we see an intimate glimpse into those last moments with His friends. In this passage He talked about what really mattered. He revealed why He really came, to open up a way for us to live a new kind of life. This flows out of a new intimacy with God characterized by a profound relationship with the Holy Spirit. Here are some words from Jonathan Edwards about this passage.
“The promises of the new covenant were never so particularly expressed and so solemnly given forth by Christ, in all the time that he was upon earth, as in this discourse. Christ promises them mansions in his Father’s house. Here he promises them whatever blessings they should need and ask in his name. Here he does, more solemnly and fully than anywhere else, give forth and confirm the promise of the Holy Spirit, which is the sum of the blessings of the covenant of grace. Here he promises them his own and his Father’s gracious presence and favor. Here he promises them peace. Here he promises them his joy. Here he promises grace to bring forth holy fruit, and victory over the world. And indeed, there seems to be nowhere else so full and complete an edition of the covenant of grace in the whole Bible, as in this dying discourse of Christ with his eleven true disciples.”
Here we see that Jesus died for more than just a life that lasts forever, we already had that being created in the image of God. He came and He died to give us a different quality of life. This life is the very life that Jesus enjoyed with His Father. He purchased that for us. This new kind of life begins when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This Spirit filled life is life indeed.

MY SOUL LONGS FOR YOU

Psa.63:1 – O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Deep in the heart of every human there is a sense of why he was really born. We all know it but most spend their lives trying to ignore it, cloak it with other purposes, or simply deny that it even exists. I’m sure you know what I am talking about, our hearts long to know the Lord intimately; that’s why we were born and nothing else can complete us. No athletic accomplishment, no title or position, no earthly position, and no sexual or family relationship can even come close. At the end of the day Augustine was right, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You”. This is why David’s songs still captivate us 3000 years later, David gave himself to that great pursuit, the pursuit of satisfaction in God. Think about it, David had access to power, finance, women, and anything this world could afford and his pursuit was totally focused on God. He captured what our hearts really long for. Here is how Andrew Murray described it.

“What is the most worthwhile thing humankind can experience on earth? Nothing less than God Himself! And what is the first and most important thing to be done each day? It is nothing less than to seek, to know, to love, and to praise God. As glorious as God is, so is the glory that begins to work in the hearts and lives of those who give themselves to live for God.

It is a great step forward in the life of a Christian when he or she truly sees this and regards their daily fellowship with God as the most important aspect of their existence.

Take time and ask yourself whether this is indeed not the most important thing around which your life should revolve—to know God and to love Him with your whole heart. This is what God desires above all else; and it is that which, in answer to your prayer, He will enable you to do.”

So just go ahead and give in; give in to the hunger that is at the core of your being. It’s not so much in what the Lord can do for you, it is God Himself that you really want and need. David got it , “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water”.

GOSPEL FEAST – LOVED BY GOD

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Is. 25:6 ¶ On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,

of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

Today we will continue our gospel feast. Today’s course is one of the most delightful; we will delight ourselves with His love. God’s love is different from human love, human love has a beginning and an end and also has major conditions. God’s love is unconditional and has no beginning or end. He has loved you before there was a you, before there was an earth, before there was a creation. He has loved you eternally and will love you through eternity. This love describes an intimacy; He has known you and loved you always. He doesn’t fall in love or out of love; His love never ceases. This love is what attracts us to Him, satisfies our hungry heart, and keeps us from the temptations in this life. Charles Spurgeon describes God’s love in his comments on today’s verse.

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you upon the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” Why, beloved, this indeed, is a fat thing! And I may add that it is full of marrow when you remember that not merely has the Lord thought of you from everlasting, but loved you. Oh, the depth of that word, “love,” as it applies to the infinite Jehovah, whose name, whose essence, whose nature is love! He has loved you with all the immutable intensity of His heart—never more and never less—loved you so much that He gave His only-begotten Son for you. He has loved you so well, that nothing could content Him but making you to be conformed into the image of His dear Son, and causing you to partake of His glory that you may be with Him where He is! Come, feed on this, you heirs of eternal life, for here are fat things full of marrow!”

When you read about Jesus in the Bible, love overflows from every page. When you draw near to Him in worship His love pours on you like a heavy rain. His love is constant and available for us all the time. Go ahead and dig in to this gospel feast, every course oozes with the Father’s love. Don’t rush through your meal, take time and taste and see that the Lord is good.

TAKE A BREAK

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We which have believed do enter into that rest.
Hebrews 4:3
Christianity often speaks of things that at first look seem like a contradiction. One of my favorites is found in Heb. 4:11 “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience”. This absolutely makes no sense to the unrenewed mind. How can someone strive and exert extreme effort to enter into rest. Wuest brings out the power of this word ‘strive’.
“The verb speaks of intensity of purpose followed by intensity of effort toward the realization of that purpose”.
So which is it, strive or rest? Actually Paul is pointing us to the key to powerful Christian living, using our energy and strength to press into the very presence of God. Actually, the whole book of Hebrews is about that, entering into the life of the Spirit behind the veil. Here is how Watchman Nee describes it.
“Rest follows work. In the fullest sense rest is only possible when the work is completed to a point of satisfaction. It is no trifling matter that God rested after those six days of creation. How, we may ask, could He—this God of purpose, this God of abounding life—come to rest? Genesis 1:31 gives us the reason: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” He had accomplished something which rejoiced His heart. The good pleasure of His will had been realized, its goal attained. In resting He proclaimed His approval. Today God invites us to share with Him His rest in Christ. Another work is accomplished, a new creation secured. His good pleasure has been realized, and no fuller realization is necessary or possible. We enter into God’s rest when, ceasing from our own strivings, we find all our satisfaction in Christ.”
That is the key, our efforts are aimed at finding satisfaction in Christ. Religious systems are all about work and effort to please God. There is no amount of effort any of us can exert to please Him. That is the frustration of the law, we all fall miserably short even with our best efforts. He is already pleased. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not our works that He finds pleasure in, it is the work of His Son. The finished work of the cross is what we rest in. We rest in what Christ has done and press in to find pleasure in His presence. That is the essence of finding life in Christ, striving to enter His rest.

HONEY IS SWEET

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Psa. 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

What does an avocado taste like? There is really no good answer to that question. Of course an avocado tastes like an avocado, it is unique. The only way to know for sure is to taste an avocado for yourself. That is the way it is with spiritual things. Someone can explain in great detail their understanding of God and His word or even tell the stories of their own God encounters but until you taste the goodness of God for yourself what you hear from others is just an idea about God. That is one of the things that troubles me about the current status of Christianity. How many supposed Christians have an idea about spiritual things and have not tasted spiritual reality for themselves? Only when we have a personal spiritual revelation can we be truly born again. This was the heart of the message of the Great Awakening and the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. Here is a thought from his sermon ‘A Divine and Supernatural Light’.

“Thus there is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man can’t have the latter, unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance….”
David had tasted of the Lord as a young man and this taste sustained him throughout his life. He had heard about the Lord from his father all his life but the moment the Holy Spirit fell on him, David knew the Lord for Himself. He had tasted God’s goodness, the Lord was filling him with His sweetness. Have you been awakened by God? It is more than reciting a prayer, you have to taste and see for yourself. When you taste His goodness your whole being will be flooded with light; go ahead and taste and see that the Lord is good.

ALLUREMENT OF THE LORD

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Song 5:1 ¶ I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;

I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;

I have drunk my wine with my milk.

Eat, O friends!

Drink, yes, drink deeply,

O beloved ones!

The Lord doesn’t get embarrassed and He is certainly not shy. He made the most intimate human relationship, marriage itself, as a picture of our call to intimacy with Himself. The entire Song of Solomon is about spiritual allurement, God is comparing our attraction to Him to the sexual attraction of Solomon and the Shulamite. This Song compares the enjoyment found in a holy sexual, relationship to the joy and intimacy we find in Christ. There is no greater natural pleasure for a human, and the Lord has the audacity to use sexuality as a picture of the spiritual joy we find in Christ.

He also compares feasting and the enjoyment of food to spiritual pleasure. He encourages us to eat as much as we want, obviously there is no benefit to moderation when it comes to feasting on God. He also drags drinking of wine into the formula, He speaks of being drunk with love and taking his bride to the house of wine. This would be scandalous if not for the spiritual application. Jonathan Edwards preached often from the Song of Solomon, check out his thoughts on spiritual indulgence.
“to be endeavoring by all possible ways to inflame their desires and to obtain more spiritual pleasures. . . . Our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value…[Therefore] endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement…There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting”
In this quote Edwards gives us the key to staying out of temptation. He said we are to put ourself in the place of spiritual allurement. That’s it! The power of sin is in the promise of pleasure, that is why sin has such power over humans, it is often quite pleasurable. So what is the answer? Not abstention from pleasure but the outright pursuit of pleasure with one stipulation; we find our pleasure in the greatest place, we find our pleasure in the Lord.

HE IS CALLING FOR YOU

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Mark 10:49 ¶ So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. ¶ Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”

The attraction of Jesus is like nothing else in this life. It seems strange to the unconverted, but the person called Jesus of Nazareth has an attraction like no other. Isaiah said, “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance nothing to attract us to him”. There was nothing about His physical appearance that made Him stand out but something that emanates from Him draws us. Solomon said it like this, “His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem”. To the unrenewed mind this sounds conflicting, to the born again it makes perfect sense. The man Jesus was quite ordinary in appearance but their was something about Him, there is still that something about Him that makes Him irresistible to His sons and daughters. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on this attraction of the Lord.
“Christ encouraged him to hope that he should find mercy; for he stood still, and commanded him to be called. We must never reckon it a hindrance to us in our way, to stand still, when it is to do a good work. Those about him, who had discouraged him at first, perhaps were now the persons that signified to him the gracious call of Christ; “Be of good comfort, rise, he calls thee; and if he calls thee, he will cure thee.” Note, The gracious invitations Christ gives us to come to him, are great encouragements to our hope, that we shall speed well if we come to him, and shall have what we come for. Let the guilty, the empty, the tempted, the hungry, the naked, be of good comfort, for he calls them to be pardoned, to be supplied, to be succored, to be filled, to be clothed, to have all that done for them, which their case calls for.”
Have you ever felt like the Lord is calling you to Himself. That is exactly what happened to Bartimaeus, Jesus was calling for him and everything was about to change. If you sense the Lord calling you near just yield to Him. You will find His wooings are guarantees of His blessings being added to your life. Respond to His call, your life is about to change.

SEARCHING FOR TREASURE

Related imageEph. 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

This verse is amazing to me. First, Paul calls himself the least of all Christians. Now remember, this is not just Paul but the inspired Word of God. How could arguably the greatest of all Christians be considered the worst? Paul persecuted the followers of Jesus. Paul was responsible for the death of the first Christian martyr, Steven. It doesn’t get any lower than that. That’s why Paul called himself the chief of sinners. Then, Paul was called to open up the gentile world to the gospel. He was called not only to do this with his missionary journeys, but also he was set apart to write most of the New Testament. Pretty amazing! Now this is where it gets really good. His message was a revelation of Jesus Himself, Paul called it the unsearchable riches of Christ. Beginning at his conversion on the Damascus Road, the Lord unveiled Himself to Paul for our sake. His message was the amazing, untraceable treasures of Christ. Here is how Adam Clarke describes it.

“The unsearchable riches of Christ. The word exicniaz, to trace out, from a step, is exceedingly well chosen here: it refers to the footsteps of God, the plans he had formed, the dispensations which he had published, and the innumerable providences which he had combined, to prepare, mature, and bring to full effect and view his gracious designs in the salvation of a ruined world, by the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of his Son. There were in these schemes and providences such riches — such an abundance, such a variety, as could not be comprehended even by the naturally vast, and, through the Divine inspiration, unparalleledly capacious mind of the apostle.”
Once we are born again we begin to be drawn into Paul’s, Christ centered world. Our hearts long for Christ who we meet in Paul’s letters. In them we taste His love, we are dazed by His grace, overwhelmed by His glory, and captured by His sovereign plans. The more we search, the more amazed we become. We are convicted of our sins, shocked by our apathy, and then challenged to draw near by the blood of Jesus. As we draw in closer, we hear Paul’s words to his son in the faith Timothy, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands”. Stir up His gift and you will be searching for the untraceable riches of Christ.

THERE IS NO OTHER

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Psa. 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
David taught us to connect our whole life to our passion for God. It was David’s passion for the Lord that called him into service, filled him with courage when facing powerful enemies and dangers, caused him to birth twenty-four hour worship, to release spontaneous and prophetic worship that still lives today, and also satisfied and sustained David until he took his last breath. David wasn’t perfect, none of us are, but he taught us that God was enough for the entirety of our lives. “Whom have I in heaven but You, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides you.” Desperate love pulsates through this song and all the Davidic psalms. This same love is available today for all of us. The Lord has poured out His Spirit, the love of God, on all who are thirsty. If you fall into that thirsty category you too can taste, and yes even live, in this passionate love that flows from the Father and the Son. Here is how Matthew Henry described this love in the 1729.

“His thoughts here dwell with delight upon his own happiness in God, as much greater then the happiness of the ungodly that prospered in the world. He saw little reason to envy them what they had in the creature when he found how much more and better, surer and sweeter, comforts he had in the Creator, and what cause he had to congratulate himself on this account. He had complained of his afflictions; but this makes them very light and easy, All is well if God be mine. We have here the breathings of a sanctified soul towards God, and its repose in him, as that to a godly man really which the prosperity of a worldly man is to him in conceit and imagination: Whom have I in heaven but thee? There is scarcely a verse in all the psalms more expressive than this of the pious and devout affections of a soul to God; here it soars up towards him, follows hard after him, and yet, at the same time, has an entire satisfaction and complacency in him.”
Love is very real. A man’s love for his wife, a mother’s love for her son, absolutely real. The love of God is like that but infinitely stronger and sweeter. Taste and see for yourself today. Don’t be surprised if David’s song get’s stuck in your head.

“Whom have I in heaven but You?

And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”

DRUNK AGAIN

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Eat, O friend; yea, drink; yea, be drunken.
SOS 5:1
I often think of a revival video of Kenneth Hagin that was recorded not long before he went to be with the Lord. He was ministering at what seemed to be a minister’s conference when the anointing fell on him powerfully, actually it fell on almost everyone at the meeting. Brother Hagin was incredibly intoxicated and filled with joy, he was obviously enjoying the presence of the Lord. One thing that I vividly remember from the video was him stoping in front of several prominent ministers and crying out, “Drunk again!” It was really quite funny and seemed to be setting everyone off, the more they laughed apparently the drunker they got. That is one of the things about spiritual drinking or spiritual intoxication. There is actually no such thing as overdoing it. With worldly behavior moderation is the key. There is no such guidelines when it comes to spiritual intoxication. It seems like more is actually better. Jonathan Edwards actually came to the same conclusion. Here are some of his comments from today’s verse.
“If the greatest good that God gives them is himself, what can God give more than himself? He gives himself with all his attributes, power, glory, dominion, and majesty. And he gives himself in the highest possible enjoyment to his people, as much as they can desire, or are capable of. And he gives himself to fully satisfy their happiness. For giving himself, he gives all things. Therefore Christ says to his people, “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved”. There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting.”
If you think about it, the Lord loves to display His glory and His goodness. How does He do that? The greatest way is in the life of His sons and daughters. We used to delight in other things (those other things were often sketchy at best). Now that we have tasted that the Lord is good He has actually become our highest joy. The more we delight in Him the happier we become. Direct contact with the Lord through worship, prayer, the word, or ministry sometimes causes our cup to overflow. This can result in strange, somewhat intoxicating behavior. Before you get all judgmental or self righteous judging something you have never experienced just stop for a moment. Maybe, just maybe, there is more available to you in Christ than you know and maybe it is all about His glory and your joy.