WHAT A DEAL !!!

Rom.8:4 – so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

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Paul goes to great depths in the book of Romans to help us see the implications of the fall of man and the redemption available to us in Christ. Our old life, our fallen nature, had no ability to follow God or live a righteous life. As Paul shared in the first chapters of Romans, all of us were born helplessly ensnared in sin. It effects every part of our lives. Our sins were in need of forgiveness but much more than that. Forgiveness alone never changes us. We find ourselves hopelessly trapped in the cycle of returning to our sinful ways. That’s why the gospel is so necessary and so powerful. Salvation includes the whole man. Christ Himself enters inside of us and liberates our will. He begins to work in us and through us in the power of this new life. All the requirements of living a holy life are no longer a burden. We joyfully yield to Jesus and His blessed new life. WE live a righteous life now empowered by His Spirit. Here is how Jonathan Edwards explains this.

“In the Romans 8:4, it is implied that if we walk after the flesh, justification and the reward of righteousness can’t “be fulfilled in us,” but if we walked after the Spirit it would be. The substance and drift of each of these things is the same. If we walk after the flesh, we shall surely come to condemnation. But, on the contrary, if we walk after the Spirit it will surely bring us to life. If we are after the flesh, we shall mind the things of the flesh. The nature of our souls will be carnal, and that will necessarily bring us to death, because to be carnally minded is “enmity against God”, and is not, nor can, be subject to the law of God, can’t please God, and therefore must bring us to condemnation. But, on the contrary, “they that are after the Spirit” do mind “the things of the Spirit”. The Spirit is become a principle of nature in them. The nature of their souls is spiritual, but this naturally and necessarily tends to life.”

What an amazing deal! The Lord makes claims and expectations of how we should live our lives. He then begins to live this new life inside of us. What is the outcome? He receives the glory for my changed life and I receive the joy that comes from this intimacy of having Christ living in and through my life.

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.

WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE ROOM

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream”

Ps. 126:1

August is so historical for Frank and I, it sweeps us up every year because that is the month when everything changed for us. Now some forty five years ago at the sweet age of 16, Christ found me at the bottom of the heap and put a new song into my mouth. That old song had done run its course! Thank God! Frank and I were married soon and swept up into a course of redemption that has never let us go. We have lived a somewhat unbelievable life. If there were ever two losers never to go anywhere in life, we would have been the poster children. When Christ walks into the room everything changes.

Bryon and Katie Torwalt sing it this way-

“When you walk into the room

Everything changes

Darkness starts to tremble

At the light that You bring

And when You walk into the room

Every heart starts burning

And nothing matters more

Than just to sit here at Your feet”

Then 1994 God just outdid himself by bringing us a fresh touch from heaven. He got tired of our dry, sorrowful services and came down with holy ghost power! Jonathan Edwards writes about the Surprising work of God that happen to his city in North Hampton. He puts it this way.

“The daily conversation of virtually everyone was the revival – “Other discourse than of the things of religion would scarcely be tolerated in any company. The minds of people were wonderfully taken off from the world, it was treated amongst us as a thing of very little consequence. They seemed to follow their worldly business, more as a part of their duty, than from any disposition they had to it; the temptation now seemed to lie on that hand, to neglect worldly affairs too much, and to spend too much time in the immediate exercise of religion. The only thing in their view was to get the kingdom of heaven, and every one appeared pressing into it. The engagedness of their hearts in this great concern could not be hid, it appeared in their very countenances. There was scarcely a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world.”

Will you allow Christ to invade your lives like never before? Your worship will change, your outlook will be transformed, even your dog will love you! Your focus will shift from the natural world to Christ world-his eternal world, the world of love.

MERCY

Lk. 15:20 – So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

One of the great parables of Jesus is the Prodigal Son, a great display of the Father’s love of fallen man. I remember looking at some pencil sketches a number of years ago from the famous artist Rembrandt. He had painted his own face as the face of the prodigal in his depiction of this parable. This pretty much tells the story, we are all the prodigal son in need of the Father’s mercy and love. In the story we see the mercy of the Father displayed in His actions. First we see the eyes of mercy, The Father is looking down the road on purpose, gazing the horizon hoping to see His son’s familiar gate. When He saw him, he was moved with compassion. The original greek for ‘felt compassion’ describes your intestines being moved with emotion. You could describe this as bowels of mercy, the Father being moved with compassion for you. Suddenly the Father could not keep still, His feet of compassion began to run, who could ever forget this picture that Jesus painted, God running toward you. Matthew Henry speaks about the arms and the lips of mercy. Here are his thoughts.

“Here were arms of mercy, and those arms stretched out to embrace him: He fell on his neck. Though guilty and deserving to be beaten, though dirty and newly come from feeding swine, so that any one who had not the strongest and tenderest compassions of a father would have loathed to touch him, yet he thus takes him in his arms, and lays him in his bosom. Thus dear are true penitents to God, thus welcome to the Lord Jesus. Here were lips of mercy, and those lips dropping as a honey-comb: He kissed him. This kiss not only assured him of his welcome, but sealed his pardon; his former follies shall be all forgiven, and not mentioned against him, nor is one word said by way of upbraiding.”

What a picture Jesus painted of our Heavenly Father. He loves us, He loved us when we were away, He welcomed us with joy when we returned. Maybe its time to bring out the fatted calf and let the party begin.

KISSED BY THE FATHER

LK.15:20 – And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

I think many people get the wrong idea about religious people, especially the Puritans from long, long ago. They were often quite expressive about their love for the Lord and experienced spiritual intimacy rather than just an austere form of legalism. It was their passion for the Lord and their evangelistic zeal that brought seasons of persecution leading many of them to make their way to the New World. Our country is indebted to the legacy of these spiritual pioneers. In the 1600’s there was a member of the parliament in England by the name of Edward Leigh who had an evangelistic zeal and a passion for the Lord. Here are some of his comments on the parable of the Prodigal Son.

“Among all the parables of Christ, this is most excellent, full of affection and set forth in lively colors. The old father sees a long way off, for dim eyes can see a long distance when the son is the object. His heart moves within him, and he has compassion on him. “He runs.” It would have been sufficient for him to have stood, because he was old, and a father, and even more so an offended father. But love descends rather than ascends: the son goes to the father; the father runs to the son. Then, he does not stop and embrace him or take him by the hand, but rather he falls on him and incorporates himself into him. He speaks not a single word- his joy was too great to be uttered—but he puts his whole mouth forward and kisses him, giving him the badge of peace, love and reconciliation. Through this example is declared that great goodness of God, who most mercifully pardons the sins of the truly penitent.”

This parable touches on something that is basic to our need as a human. We need forgiveness, acceptance, and real love. Jesus pointed us to the Heavenly Father for all of that. The Heavenly Father has also been painted by many as demanding and harsh. Jesus set the record straight when He shared about the rebellious son smelling of pigs embraced in the Father’s love. There is a place in His arms for you too.

LETS GET THIS PARTY STARTED

Lk.15:22-24 – But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

What an amazing description of God’s love for fallen man. We went out and wasted our Father’s gifts on sinful living. Rather than judging us and banishing us from His home, He embraces us, kisses us and showers us with gifts, and throws us a party. Here are some thoughts from the People’s New Testament Commentary on the Father’s response in this parable of the prodigal son.

“Bring forth the best robe. He had returned in rags. The best robe is the white robe of the righteousness of Christ. A ring on his hand. A ring with a seal was a symbol of authority, of sonship. Shoes on his feet. Servants went barefoot, but the shoes were a symbol of freedom. Bring the fatted calf. For a feast of welcome. To make such preparations was common in the simple life of the East. For my son was dead, and is alive. It was a spiritual resurrection. They began to be merry. Gladness should be manifested by all saints at the repentance of sinners.”

What an amazing welcome, He took off our filthy rags marked with the stains of our sins, He put on us a beautiful robe welcoming us back home. The Lord clothes each of His returning prodigals with a beautiful robe, we are clothed in the righteous garments of Christ, justified by grace through faith. Next, He places the family ring on our finger. We are not outcast, we are welcomed into the very privileges and authority of Sonship. We are sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ. Then there were the shoes. Our previous shoes were long gone from the hard road we had chosen to walk. Now, our feet are covered with the shoes of the promises of God. We are freed from our life of slavery, God’s promises are now ours. He also killed the fatted calf reserved for the greatest of occasions. This calf also reminds us of the sin offering that made all of this possible, the blood of Jesus has washed away our sin. The joy finally began to break out into singing and dancing, “My son who was lost has now returned home”. Let’s get this party started.

PRANCING THROUGH LIFE

Gal.3:13,14 – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE” — in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

One of the great mysteries in the Bible is seen in today’s verse. It is one of those too good to be true and hard to believe stories. Christ took my curse upon Himself. Now the lost person never thinks a curse should be on them in the first place. It is only by the grace of God that we glimpse the danger we are in without Christ and see the darkness of our ways. Paul thought he was a righteous Pharisee until grace came and he saw the filthiness of his sinful condition. All at once we see it; the sinfulness of our lives, the curse that follows our sin, and then we see that most amazing of all realities. Christ became a curse for us that we could be free. Here is how Martin Luther describes it.

“Paul does not say that Christ was made a curse for Himself. The accent is on the two words “for us”. Christ is personally innocent. Personally, He did not deserve to be hanged for any crime of His own doing. But because Christ took the place of others who were sinners, He was hanged like any other transgressor. The Law of Moses leaves no loopholes. It says that a transgressor should be hanged. Who are the other sinners? We are. The sentence of death and everlasting damnation had long been pronounced over us. But Christ took all our sins and died for them on the Cross. “He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

So are you still prancing through life deluded by self righteousness that flows from some sort of system of good deeds or religious activity or have you seen it? Have you seen for yourself the ugliness of your sin, the horror of your curse that fell on Christ, and then the gift of righteousness that we receive as a gift by grace through faith? When you see this blessing and curse all we can do is fall at His feet in worship.

THOROUGH AND FINAL

Heb.7:25 – Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

To me, this verse is breathtaking!!! Uttermost!! One of those words we seldom use or hear but it carries rich meaning for all of us helping us to understand the nature of salvation and conversion. Uttermost, first of all, means totally and completely. This salvation, purchased by the cross and enacted by His intercession, changes us completely. It is more than a cover up of past sins but a destruction of who we once were and the creation of a brand new you. Redemption is made complete as we are transformed into beautiful sons and daughters. Secondly, this work of salvation is eternal. Uttermost reeks of permanence. We are saved by grace never to return to what and who we once were. We are thoroughly and totally transformed. Here is how Adam Clarke described it.

“Because he is an everlasting priest, and has offered the only available sacrifice, he is able to save, from the power, guilt, nature, and punishment of sin, to the uttermost, to all intents, degrees, and purposes; and always, and in and through all times, places, and circumstances; for all this is implied in the original word: but in and through all times seems to be the particular meaning here, because of what follows, he ever liveth to make intercession for them; this depends on the perpetuity of his priesthood, and the continuance of his mediatoral office. As Jesus was the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, has an everlasting priesthood, and is a continual intercessor; it is in virtue of this that all who were saved from the foundation of the world were saved through him, and all that shall be saved to the end of the world will be saved through him. He ever was and ever will be the High Priest, Sacrifice, Intercessor, and Mediator of the human race.”

Redemption is thorough and final. Over the last several years we have been conducting a woman’s restoration center called Mary’s Song. This word has been proved over and again as women come out of the darkness and bondage of sin, find forgiveness through His blood, and and become holy women of God. Yes I believe in the redeeming work of God because I see Him saving people to the uttermost.

THE BEAUTY OF REDEMPTION

1 Cor.1:28, 29 – God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

Redemption is the display of the beauty of God. Many people can’t see this display of God’s beauty, it is only seen by those who have redeemed eyes. What exactly is this thing called redemption? It’s the whole purpose of the word of God. Mankind is locked up in misery resulting from our separation from the Lord. Our sins have robbed us, blinded us, and destroyed our ability to live and enjoy living. Redemption is the working of the sacrificial blood of Jesus on our souls. The power of redemption starts with forgiveness but doesn’t stop there, far from it. The power of God transforms us into different kinds of people. What is the outcome, we are able to actually enjoy life and God is glorified by the transformation. We see our world through different eyes, we also see the Lord and His church through different eyes. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on the beauty of redemption.

“Tis of God that we actually do receive all the benefits that Christ has purchased. ’Tis God that pardons and justifies, and delivers from going down to hell, and ’tis his favor that the redeemed are received into, and are made the objects of, when they are justified. So it is God that delivers from the dominion of sin, and cleanses us from our filthiness, and changes us from our deformity. ’Tis of God that the redeemed do receive all their true excellency, wisdom and holiness; and that two ways as the Holy Ghost by whom these things are immediately wrought is from God, proceeds from him, and is sent by him; and also as the Holy Ghost himself is God, by whose operation and indwelling, the knowledge of God and divine things, and a holy disposition, and all all grace are conferred and upheld.”

This is what the ministry of Paul was all about. He called himself the worst of all sinners because he had attacked the church. It was the beauty of redemption that changed Paul from being a murderer to becoming a wonderful man of God. This was the power of his message. He was preaching his testimony, the beauty of redemption. Next time you go to church have a look around. Former adulterers, liars, thieves, braggarts, drug users, alcoholics, homosexuals, and prostitutes; now they are the people of God, redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus.

THE LIGHT OF MEN

John 1:1,3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:4 – In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

If you pay close attention to these first few verses of the gospel of John you can see the powerful work of Jesus in creation and redemption. The Word of the Father created all things. It was also through the Word of the Father that life and spiritual revelation came. John starts off His gospel with shocking declarations of the deity of Christ seen in creation and redemption as well as His humanity. This book is an amazing look into this profound spiritual revelation. God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Even in His humanity His deity is as bright as the noonday sun. Here are some thoughts from Lightfoot on the Word involved in creation and redemption.

“[In him was life.] The evangelist proceeds from the creation by the Word, to the redemption of the world by the same Word. He had declared how this Word had given to all creatures their first being; “All things were made by him”: and he now sheweth how he restored life to man when he lay dead in trespasses and sins. “Adam called his wife’s name Hevah, life,” [Eve, AV Chavah, margin] Genesis 3:20: the Greek reads Adam called his wife’s name, ‘Life.’ He called her Life who had brought in death; because he had now tasted a better life in the promise of the woman’s seed. To which it is very probable our evangelist had some reference in this place.”

What Lightfoot is pointing out is this, John is saying that the Creator is the Redeemer. Everything that exists; from pomegranates to porcupines, from black holes to supernovas are the work of the Word Who became flesh. This same Person is also the Redeemer. He is the one Who turned prostitutes into evangelists and cowards into lions. Today He is still doing His amazing work of redemption. While the world is paralyzed with an opioid crisis He offers healing and restoration to the addict. As millions battle addictions to porn and sensual gratification, He offers peace and rest in His love and purity. While the world fights in dissension and political upheaval, this Prince of Peace is inviting all of us to Himself in His new government. Yes, in Him alone is life and He is the light of men.