Ps.24:6 – Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
I wonder what Mary thought the first time she saw the face of her son Jesus? How much did she comprehend? Did she know He was her Creator? Did she know He was her Savior? How did she sort out the emotions of mother and worshiper?
And what about Joseph? Did He know he was being protected by the One he was protecting? Did Joseph realize that his son was providing for him, or did he have it backwards?
Then there was the shocked faces of the shepherds peering into the stable crib. Did they know that this was the King of kings in such a humble abode? Did they recognize deity cloaked in the body of infancy?
And who could forget old Simeon who had been waiting for this day for years. How did he know who this little baby was? Was it something in his face that grabbed his attention? This was Simeon’s defining moment. This was the messiah, a supernatural birth, a sign to be spoken against. Now he could go home in peace.
So on and on it went. Peter saw Him differently that first day, smiling at the boat sinking load of fish. The leper saw His face through a stream of tears of joy. The paralytic saw His face and found strength to pick up his pallet and walk. Mary Magdalene saw His face and found courage and grace to walk out of her world of darkness. The Gadarene madman saw His face and felt peace for the first time in his life. The little boy who gave up his lunch saw His face and began to shout and laugh for joy. Bartimaeus saw His face, it was the first time he had seen anyone’s face. The Centurion at the cross saw His face and knew this was the Son of God. Have you ever seen His face? That’s what Christmas is all about. God became a man so that we could see the face of God. One glimpse of His radiance and you will be forever changed. Here is a poem I recently wrote about the first time I saw His face.
Rev.21:5 – Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
The Word of God is quite amazing to me. No matter how much you study it you can never master it. Like God Himself, His Word is limitless. Today’s verse is a great example. In this one verse of scripture are two words that are absolute game changers. The first word is poeio translated as ‘make’. This word is where our word poetry comes from. This is describing the creative power of God. It is used as a continuous action verb describing the constant working of God. The second word is kainos which is our word for ‘new’. Kainos means new in species, better, renovated, or higher excellence. You take these words together and it says that the Lord is continually making our lives new and better by His creative power working in us. This is how Jonathan Edwards describes this verse.
“Hence this new state of things is called a new heaven and a new earth. Christ came to restore all things with respect to the elect that, whatever there is of the ruinous effects of the fall through the whole universe, all might be fully and perfectly healed in Christ; that old things might pass away and all things become new; that man himself might be a new creature, both in his soul by conversion and sanctification, and in his body by the resurrection, and the world as to him might become a new creation; and so not only himself created anew in Christ Jesus, but everything created anew as to him fully and perfectly. Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.” Hence the end of the world, when this shall be perfected, is called the “times of refreshing” and the “times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19–21).”
As John’s prophesy in the book of Revelations is coming to an end He is showing His work of renewal and redemption and how it is eradicating the results of the fall in His sons and daughters. No matter how difficult your life has been, no matter how far you have wandered from Him, His power of redemption and renewal is greater. He is continually making all things new in my life and in your life. His renewing love never ceases. Embrace His renewing power today.
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.
For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. (Romans 6:4 NLT)
When I was a child, I loved to read about the adventures of Tom Sawyer. One of the stories that stood out to me was the time a funeral was held for Tom, he had been missing and assumed dead. The funny thing about the story was that Tom was not really dead, and he attended his own funeral. That day ended with a combination of being loved and being punished, no one knew quite how to respond when they found out Tom was not dead after all. I was recently thinking about my own funeral, the one that I attended myself, back in the summer of 1973. I had recently given my life to Christ. It had taken place after being witnessed to by some “Jesus freaks” out on the lakefront of Lake Ponchartrain in New Orleans. Shortly after that “Jesus freak” encounter, I found myself back at the lakefront, this time I was coming to be buried.
You see, baptism is a burial service, not much different from other funerals you may have attended. People gather together and sing some songs to the Lord, the preacher reads some scripture, prayers and comments about the deceased are made, and then you proceed to the graveside. The only real difference is that the dead person at a baptism is still breathing. I’ll never forget the evening I was baptized. My new Christian friends gathered to pay their last respects and the gathering crowd of mocking party animals assembled hoping to have a good time at my expense. I wasn’t aware of very much, I was caught up in the moment. You see, I was leaving behind my old life, I really had died. My life of foolish, sensual pleasure was over, a new life was about to start. You see, there was another guest, an invisible guest, at my funeral that night. Jesus was there, watching the proceedings. He was rejoicing with the angels at my new life, He was speaking to me about things to come. As I was dunked into the dark waters of Lake Ponchartrain that night, I knew my life would never be the same. I had some sense of the past events of my life passing through my mind, like a video on super fast forward. Everything I used to be was gone, all things had become new. The Christians on the bank rejoiced, the party animals shouted profanities, and Jesus and the angels shouted for joy. As I climbed the steps at the edge of the Lake, I was beginning my new life. I had left one party and joined another, but this new one will never end.
I kind of know how Tom felt that day. People act different when you are walking around after your funeral. Your earthly friends want to keep their distance, but your spiritual friends begin to embrace you. They know what you are going through, after all, they attended their funerals too.
I see the world differently than I used to. The light that revealed Christ to me has literally changed my view of everything. Things like marriage and money and football; my way of looking at all of those things has changed. I can’t even go for a drive or a walk in the neighborhood without being taken back by this glorious world of light. You see when Christ turned the light on in my life He lit up the whole world. Just think about it, when blind Bartimaeus was first awakened from his sleep he not only saw Christ, he saw his whole world differently. He had never been able to see children or waterfalls, he never saw an apple or a butterfly, he had never gazed into the sky or had seen the blazing glory of the sun; now his whole world was lit up. This is a great description of what happens to all people who are born again. Their world which was once dark is now ablaze with light. Everything is different now; church is different, the Bible is beaming with light, even our every day ordinary stuff caries a new shimmer of life. Christ has lit up our world. Here is how C.S. Lewis describes this.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
That pretty much tells the story, I now see everything else by this light that has awakened my soul. I can never look at my world in the same way that I used to, before I was feeling my way through life, now it is alive with the glory of the Lord.
That is the funny thing about being awakened from the slumber of spiritual darkness; we are blind and dysfunctional and don’t realize it. We think we are doing okay when we don’t even have a clue what real life is even like. We are stuck on survival in this physical world when the unseen world is just under our noses. Bartimaeus would never go back to those long dark days again, neither will I. He was too busy enjoying and exploring this world of light; like Bartimaeus, we live in a different world now.
1 Cor.6:9-11 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
One of the sure signs of a real move of God is changed lives. That was the argument Jonathan Edwards made in his writing, ‘The Distinguish Marks’ in his defense of the Great Awakening. He described numerous individuals that he knew personally that had a dramatic change in their lives after they were influenced by the move of God. At the end of the day that is how we know if something that looks like revival is legitimate. Are people being liberated from past habits? Is there a new interest in the Bible and going to worship services? Are those influenced by the move focused on Christ? These characteristics are a sure sign that you are dealing with something quite different from emotionalism. Here is how William Cooper described the atmosphere of the awakening in its earliest days in his introduction to Edwards work, ‘The Distinguishing Marks’.
“Some of the most rude and disorderly are become regular in their behavior, and sober in all things. The gay and airy are become grave and serious. Some of the greatest sinners have appeared to be turned into real saints. Drunkards have become temperate: fornicators and adulterers of a chaste conversation; swearers and profane persons have learned to fear that glorious and fearful name, the Lord their God; and carnal worldlings have been made to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Yea, deriders and scoffers at this work and the instruments of it, have come under its conquering power. Some of this stamp, who have gone to hear the preacher, as some did Paul—”What will this babbler say?”—have not been able to resist the power and the spirit with which he spake; have sat trembling under the Word, and gone away from it weeping; and afterward did cleave unto the preacher…”
I love this description of revival, how can you argue with this? Drunkards are temperate, adulterers are modest and chaste, and mockers have been conquered by God. My favorite, swearers have learned to fear the glorious Name. Sounds like the real thing to me.
John 13:34 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
God’s love is supernatural. Of course it is, everything about Him is supernatural. This new commandment of love given to us by the Lord is more than difficult, the agape love that Jesus speaks of is impossible for a human to accomplish. Then why does He require it of us? Like Augustine famously said, “Lord, command what you will but give what you command”. That’s what makes this new law of love possible for us to live in. Christ has made His home in our hearts since we have been born again. As we yield to Him and walk in the Spirit, He begins to love through us. This is the sure sign of conversion, the love of God shed abroad in our hearts loving this unloveable world. So the new commandment is something only He can fulfill. Then what is the good news? He has chosen to love the world through us. Here is a quote from Johnson’s Commentary on John.
“A new commandment I give unto you. The commandment to love was not new, but such love as the Savior commanded was new. It was such love for each other as he had shown for them that he commanded. That love was one so intense as to give up all things. His love led him to leave heaven, to take our infirmities upon him, to endure a weary and painful ministry, to become a servant, even to wash the feet of his disciples, and it was about to show itself forth in the outpouring of his blood for the sake of his people. It was such love as he would inspire in the hearts of his disciples for each other; a self-denying, self-sacrificing love which is not of the earth, but carries its own demonstration that it is of heavenly origin. The “new life” is love.”
To me, this love is seen most clearly with Christ’s prayer for His executioners as He hung dying on the cross. He prayed the unthinkable, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. That is the display of God loving the world through His Son Jesus. Now He has chosen to love the world through us. We can now do the impossible, loving the unlovely with the love of God.
John 11:25,26 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
This has to stand right at the top as one of Jesus Christ’s greatest miracles. Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. That’s right; FOUR DAYS !!! If you believe the Bible is true and more than just allegories you have to admit, this is over the top. Lazarus body had begun to decay and had to be restored, whatever sickness he had contracted had to be healed, not to mention his spirit was no longer in his body. Lazarus was finished. There was nothing Lazarus could do to fix it, none of his friends could help, as a matter of fact there was no doctor that could straighten out this mess. Lazarus was passed any possibility of being helped.
Like I said before, I believe this is a real historical event with real people involved. A man who had been dead for four days came out of his tomb totally alive. As a matter of fact, Lazarus is seen later that week at the dinner table with Jesus and his friends and family.
Even though this was a real life event it also carries within it a powerful, shocking message for all of us. Lazarus is seen in this account as a representative of all of us. Just as Lazarus was dead and rotting in his tomb, all of us are born in a state of dying, actually rotting in our transgressions and sins. We are all born in a hopeless state. We can’t fix ourselves and there is no person or resources in all the earth that can bring us out of our tomb of death. Our only hope is that Christ Himself will come and stand outside our tomb, weeping and calling out our name. COME FORTH!!!! He cries as He calls your name out of the regions of the damned. He not only forgives our sins but breaks the power of death that has ruled us all our lives. His resurrection power brings us out of the tomb of death and brings us into the world of the living.
Some people wear their death better than others. They dress up their corpse and prop it up to try to convince the world (and themselves) that they’ve got this and they are not that bad. All along, the corpse is stinking just like Lazarus. The only solution is for resurrection life to enter us and bring us out of the land of the damned.
Psa. 36:7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
Have you had the privilege of catching a glimpse behind the veil? Obviously, that veil in the temple pictures human flesh and everything in this life that blocks the striking view of the glory of the Lord. The veil has been torn by the death of Christ giving us access into this glory; but there remains a problem. Only faith can gain entrance into this amazing place. Many Christians spend their entire lives outside the veil never enjoying the very thing that has been purchased by the redeeming blood of Jesus. Looking at principles and precepts thinking that the best they can do is somehow improve their earthly life not knowing that another world lies just behind the veil. Many think that faith is about self improvement rather than access into the holiest of all. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on today’s verse.
“Here we enter into the Holy of Holies. Benevolence, and mercy, and justice, are everywhere, but the excellence of that mercy only those have known whose faith has lifted the veil and passed into the brighter presence of the Lord; these behold the excellency of the Lord’s mercy. The word translated excellent may be rendered “precious; “no gem or pearl can ever equal in value a sense of the Lord’s love. This is such a brilliant as angels wear. King’s regalia are a beggardly collection of worthless pebbles when compared with the tender mercies of Jehovah. David could not estimate it, and therefore, after putting a note of admiration, he left our hearts and imagination, and, better still, our experience, to fill up the rest. He writes how excellent! because he cannot tell us the half of it.”
If you pay careful attention to David’s words and the words of Spurgeon you begin to realize they both share a common experience. Both of them have seen something more precious than anything this world offers. They have not only seen this precious life, they have entered into it and embraced it. From the moment that this other life became theirs a new purpose gripped their souls. What was that new passion? It was to tell as many others as possible this new life that is available now. Don’t settle for a beggardly life (Spurgeon’s word) scratching around for crumbs when this amazing new life is right under your nose.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with
Christ in God … Christ, who is your life.
When I first got saved I had no idea of the depths of what had happened. It went from a new found faith in God focused on His only Son, to a realization that something profound had happened in my life. It was more than my beliefs that changed, I had changed. Paul calls it becoming a new creation. I lost my taste for the sinful pleasures of this world. I not only had the power to resist those old temptations, the desire for those things actually went away. New desires replaced those old desires. What kind of desires? Things like reading my Bible, going to whatever Christian gathering I could find; even my choices of music changed. Christ had become the center of my life.
As we grow in Christ we have to continue that life of change. The way we do that is by continuing to focus our thoughts and affections on Christ. Reading the Bible and worshipping Christ keeps us in that constant flow of transformation. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on staying in a state of renewal.
“Our life is hidden with Christ in God and needs to be renewed daily. It requires time and thought to grasp the truth that the life Christ lives in the Father is the same life He lives in you and me. Christ does not live one life in the Father and another in you. His explicit words are, “Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”. As Christ is in the Father, so you are in Him and He in you. How poorly we have grasped this! How little trouble we take to experience it. Here is the secret: a necessary daily quiet time with prayerful meditation to become deeply impressed with the truth that the Lord Jesus, whose life is hidden in God, also has His life hidden in us. Only in this way can we truly come to know that our glorious heavenly Christ lives in our hearts to enable us to live as children of the heavenly Father.”
As new Christians we may not know what has really happened to us, we now share the same life that Jesus shares. That is what He purchased for us, that is what we received. Our quiet times now bring us into a greater awareness of the life we have received. It will take eternity to explore and appreciate the depths of this life. After all, that is what eternity is all about, exploring the depths of His love.