I WANT TO RIDE ON THE WHEEL OF GOD

Ezekiel.1:15,16 – Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

This vision of Ezekiel is one of the most stunning in all of scripture. He saw the same beings that Isaiah saw in his temple vision and as John saw when he was caught up before the throne of God in heaven. Apparently these beings are worshippers and have attended the Lord since the day they were created. Ezekiel seems to have described these beings with more detail talking about wheels with wheels within them that actually have the spirit of the beings within them. I was recently looking at some of the older commentators view of this passage. Matthew Henry and Jonathan Edwards said that these wheels speak of the precise sovereignty of God. Even though the world may seem to be chaotic at times, God’s sovereign time clock is moving in perfection. The great day of His kingdom draws near. Here is something Edwards said about this passage.

“We began at the head of the stream of divine providence, and we have followed it and traced it through its various windings and turnings till we are come to the end of it, and we see where it issues: as it began in God, so it ends in God. God is the infinite ocean into which it empties itself. Providence is like a mighty wheel whose ring or circumference is so high that it is dreadful with the glory of the God of Israel above upon it, as ’tis represented in Ezekiel’s vision.”

Every time I hear the word sovereignty I am reminded of what it says in Hebrews 1:3 – “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power”. Jesus is the wheel in the middle of the wheel, He Himself rules and upholds all things with His word. This is personal, He is upholding all things in my life. Not only is He upholding, He is driving and orchestrating His awesome kingdom plan in my life. I want to ride on the wheel of God!

JESUS LOVES ME

Jn13:1 – Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

I love the last part of this verse, “(Jesus) loved His own until the end”. In this passage Jesus displayed His love for His disciples by taking on the role of a servant and washing the disciples’ feet. He was washing the feet of fishermen, tax collectors, political activists, and even the one who would betray Him. Not only was Jesus displaying love to His followers, He was mirroring the coming work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. That’s what this whole night was about; foot washing, instituting the Lord’s Supper that would prepare the world for the Holy Spirit, and finally an extensive teaching on the One He called Another Helper.

In this teaching on the Holy Spirit that is really over our heads and past comprehension, Jesus began to describe the love the Father has for Jesus. He was now saying that that infinite love enjoyed by the trinity is now becoming available to us. Jesus said it like this, Jn.15:9 – “I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts”. This is unending love, eternal love, the love that is enjoyed between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus proclaimed the unthinkable, this love is now available to us. Here is a description of this love from the Passion Notes.

“Unconditional love flies in the face of the most basic drives of human nature. We tend to love conditionally; we love only those we consider worthy. God’s love is nothing like that. Christians see the unconditional quality of God’s love displayed on the Cross. It is love for the utterly unworthy, a love that proceeds from a God who loves simply because He is love. Such a love could never be conceived by men. Only God would dare to love in such a way.”

So when we meet Christ we are confronted with a totally different kind of love than we have ever known before. He loves us despite us being us. He loves us because that is Who He is. God is love and the Holy Spirit is the outpouring of God’s love on whosoever will.

WAY BEYOND ME

Ps.139:7 – Where could I go from your Spirit? Where could I run and hide from your face? If I go up to heaven, you’re there!

One of the stunning things about the Lord is how He is so powerful and infinitely expansive and at the same time, so personal and intimate. These two seemingly contradictory realties are actually the very foundation of our Christian faith. Our God created a universe so big and complicated that man can’t crack the surface of God’s great creation. He created the vast universe that is so huge that our computer generated telescopes can’t find the end of His creation. Maybe that’s because creation mirrors the infinite nature of the Lord and apparently has no end. And then there is the complex nature of creation, Who created eyes and light, ears and sound, mouths and taste, and hands that feel. His creation points us to His incredible infinite knowledge. At the same time the Lord is incredibly personal and sensitive. We see His personal nature when He ministered to Jairus and his daughter, the thief on the cross, the woman at the well in Samaria: the gospels are filled with stories of how Jesus ministered personally to individuals. Here is David Jeremiah on today’s verse.

“Solomon, the son of David and the wisest man of his age, built a majestic temple to the glory of God…..Even though this temple was a wonder of the ancient world, Solomon reflected on the inadequacy of anything built with hands to contain the magnificence of God. He said, “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”. Here is the paradox. We know that God is as far beyond us as the deepest reaches of the universe. Yet at the same time, “He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being”. Since God is both beyond us and beside us, His love also exists beyond us, beside us, and within us. His love is to us as the sea is to a fish: The sea is huge and expansive beyond the limited range of any fish, yet in it the fish lives, moves, and has its very being.”

We are brought to the amazing conclusion; God is bigger and more merciful that we can ever know. Knowing Him is the beginning of understanding and is better than life itself.

FOUR KINDS OF LOVE

1 Cor.13:13 – And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I had the privilege of spending a lot of time over the years with an awesome man of God by the name of Dick Mills. Brother Mills had an insatiable appetite for God’s word and spent endless amounts of time researching Bibles words. I caught an appetite for studying the scripture in a different way from spending time with my old friend. Every time he came to New Orleans he would bring me a new translation of the Bible, a word study book, or some old commentaries he may have picked up in Europe. When Brother Mills came to town it was kind of like Christmas. One of the first word studies I remember Brother Dick ministering on was the word love. I was amazed that there are four Greek words that we translate love in English. Those words are storge, Philadelphia, Eros, and agape. Here is a brief definition of these four words.

Storge –

Storge or familial love refers to natural or instinctual affection, such as the love of a parent towards offspring and vice versa. In social psychology, another term for love between good friends is philia.

Philadelphia

Loving one’s brother, brotherly affectionate. In a wider sense it meant love of one’s fellow countrymen. In the strictly Christian sense of loving as brothers. Philádelphoi sums up the bearing of Christians to each other, and the adj. which follow describe what their behavior should be.

Eros

This is the passionate love that desires the other for itself. The god Eros compels all but is compelled by none. In Plato érōs symbolizes fulfilment, in Plotinus desire for union with the one. What is sought in érōs is intoxication or ecstasy. Reflection is good, but ecstatic frenzy, while sometimes viewed with horror, is greater. érōs masters us and confers supreme bliss thereby.

Agape

Love, affectionate regard, goodwill, benevolence. With reference to God’s love, it is God’s willful direction toward man. It involves God doing what He knows is best for man and not necessarily what man desires. For example, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave.” What did He give? Not what man wanted, but what God knew man needed, i.e., His Son to bring forgiveness to man.

I was amazed when I first saw this. Agape, of course, is a supernatural love. Storge, Eros, and Philadelphia, can all be experienced by the natural man. Agape is supernatural in nature. When we are born again the love (agape) of God is poured into our hearts. It is from this love that we love and worship God and also love and serve our neighbor. Stay filled with Him and you will begin to live in the agape love of God that pours from the Lord.

BEGGING TO GIVE

2 Cor.8:1,4 – Beloved ones, we must tell you about the grace God poured out upon the churches of Macedonia. They actually begged us for the privilege of sharing in this ministry of giving….

“From the depths of their extreme poverty, super-abundant joy overflowed into an act of extravagant generosity.” This is how Paul described the effect of grace on the churches of Macedonia. This kind of joyful generosity is un-explainable unless….. unless you add God’s amazing grace to the equation. Humans do things because of the reward involved. You put in a hard day’s work and there is a rewarding paycheck on the other side, a farmer works his field expecting a harvest. Giving finances to the ministry doesn’t compute to the natural man. The effect of God’s grace radically changes our perception of giving to God’s kingdom. The generosity Paul describes in this passage makes sense to those effected by God’s grace. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“Under persecution and desperately poor, the churches of Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea) gave more than just an extravagant offering. They fully surrendered themselves to the Lord and gave out of a longing to fulfill God’s pleasure. This is the key to generous giving. First we dedicate our hearts to God, which includes our finances, then we give to God’s work as he directs us. Throughout 2 Corinthians, giving is described as a “grace” that God places on our lives, which empowers our generosity.”

What exactly is the reward that we see as a result of God’s grace that changes us. First, we see the value of God’s kingdom and the joy of redemption. When we see the lives changed by the grace of God it makes our giving worth everything. Seeing the fruit of God’s ministries alone causes us to want to give our finances to His work. Grace also opens our eyes to seedtime and harvest which is how the Lord operates His entire creation. Our tithes and offerings are literally seeds that contain God’s abundant supply for our personal lives. No wonder the Macedonians were excited about giving. Finally, our giving also comes back to us in heaven. Jesus taught about generosity with our finances as well. He said that when we give to God’s work on earth we are “storing up treasures in heaven”. Seeing the Lord’s blessing in His ministries on earth, on our personal finances in the here and now, and the blessing that will come back to us for eternity is the work of grace on us. When we see it for ourselves, we too will beg to be able to participate in the privilege of giving to the work of God.

GOD IS LOVE

1 Jn.4:16 – So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

God’s very nature is love. His love is not an idea or a belief, it is tangible. His love can be experienced and it is the experiencing of His love that radically changes our lives. Problems often arise when a person begins to hear about the love of God who has no relationship with the Lord themselves. Their only frame of reference is the different loves they may have experienced in life. Failed relationships and personal disappointments can become a major block for someone to actually receive God’s love. A failed marriage, a betrayal in a friendship, or a bad relationship with parents can destroy our perception of the love of God. Here is a quote from David Jeremiah about this.

“Those who have suffered from common abuses of love are often skeptical of love from any source, including God. If your heart is broken romantically, you face the danger of concluding that all love, including God’s, is just as unstable. If you have a troubled relationship with your human father, you might conclude that your heavenly Father is just as unreliable. These mistaken ideas about God can be devastating, but they are not uncommon. We cannot afford to make broad judgments about love or God from our limited personal experiences. Nor can we look to pop culture as any kind of authority—songs or sitcoms or soaps or cinema. We might as well get our idea of the beach from a child’s sandbox. Better to go to the ultimate authority on both God and love. The Bible must be our guide.”

So how exactly can one overcome these love disappointments that have left us scarred and disillusioned with life? There is really only one way, you must taste and see the love of God for yourself. You must put yourself in a position for His love to begin to break in to your life. Read the gospels (I love the book of John). Go to church. Find a church that focuses on worship and the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Get involved with people who love the Lord. If you do these things you are obviously hungry and are being prepared by the Lord for a major change in your life. His love is breaking through and your world is about to be majorly changed

THE LORD IS MY SHELTER

Isa.32:2,3 – Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and rulers shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the tempest, as streams of water in a dry place; like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

This verse was an Old Testament glimpse into the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ. It would not be surprising to say these kinds of things about God. Many of the Old Testament scriptures and songs spoke of the Lord as our Hiding Place, our Refuge in times of storms, and even streams of refreshing for our soul. The shocking nature of this passage is this, Isaiah said that a man would be our hiding place, our shelter from the storms, and even streams of refreshing water in a dry place. Obviously Isaiah is pointing to the coming messiah as more than a man but God in the form of a man. These references were hazy and hard to comprehend until Christ appeared on earth. To those with eyes to see His presence on earth began to put the pieces of the prophetic puzzle together. This was a clear prophetic word proclaiming the deity of the coming One. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this prophesy.

“When the greatest evils befalls us, not only the wind, but the tempest, when storms of guilt and wrath beset us and beat upon us, they drive us to Christ, and in him we are not only safe, but satisfied that we are so; in him we find rivers of water for those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, all the refreshment and comfort that a needy soul can desire, and the shadow, not of a tree, which sun or rain may beat through, but of a rock, of a great rock, which reaches a great way for the shelter of the traveller. Some observe here that as the covert, and the hiding-place, and the rock, do themselves receive the battering of the wind and storm, to save those from it that take shelter in them, so Christ bore the storm himself to keep it off from us”

According to Henry everything we need is provided for us in Christ. We must only hide ourselves in His shelter in the shadow of the Rock. He is my hiding place and my refreshing no matter what the world brings my way. I am hidden in Christ and no weapon formed against me can ever succeed.

SINNER’S HOUSE

Matt. 9:10 – Later, Jesus went to Matthew’s home to share a meal with him. Many other tax collectors and outcasts of society were invited to eat with Jesus and his disciples.

There is an art to being a good fisherman. When I was a young child we used to return to by dad’s old stomping grounds in Tampa, Florida. He had an old friend who was an avid fisherman who would take us out each year and we would go fishing in Tampa Bay. My dad was a good fisherman but his friend lived in that world all the time. Even though he wasn’t “family” I knew him as Uncle Lester. When Uncle Lester went fishing you could be sure you would load up the boat.

Jesus was an expert in the arena of fishing for souls. He knew exactly where to go and exactly what the “fish” would be biting on. In today’s verse Jesus went fishing at an old sinner’s house. This sinner was His newest follower Matthew. Jesus knew a party at Matthew’s house would be irresistible to Mathew’s friends. The word of Matthew’s conversion that had spread through the community would serve as bait. This would be easy, all the fish would show up . That night would be a night of harvest. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this scene.

“He invited many publicans and sinners to meet him. This was the chief thing Matthew aimed at in this treat, that he might have an opportunity of bringing his old associates acquainted with Christ. He knew by experience what the grace of Christ could do, and would not despair concerning them. Note, They who are effectually brought to Christ themselves, cannot but be desirous that others also may be brought to him, and ambitious of contributing something towards it. True grace will not contentedly eat its morsels alone, but will invite others. When by the conversion of Matthew the fraternity was broken, presently his house was filled with publicans, and surely some of them will follow him, as he followed Christ.”

Henry takes it a little farther, He seems to think that Matthew was already involved with this fishing exposition. If you have been unsuccessful in fishing for souls maybe you should change your tactics. Go to a newly converted sinner’s house and throw a party. Before you know it the fish will be jumping in the boat.

WHEN JESUS COMES TO YOUR HOUSE

Matt.8:14,15 – And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.

Jesus loved to do home visits. He would often go into people’s homes for meals or maybe a place to rest for the evening or possibly just to hang out. None of those were the real reasons He was visiting people’s homes, He always had bigger things in mind. When He went to Jairus’s home Jairus’s dead daughter was raised from the dead. When He went to Peter’s house Peter’s mother in law was healed and spiritual awakening visited that fishing village. He went to Zacheus’s home and repentance and restitution took place. He went to Mary and Martha’s home and the very atmosphere was changed. What would happen if Jesus came to your home? Of course I don’t know but everything seems to improve no matter what the situation when the Lord comes knocking at the door. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on Jesus’s practice of home visitation.

“Outside Peter’s door hung fishing nets…yet beneath that lowly roof Immanuel… unveiled Himself…. Little did Peter know the blessing that entered his house when Jesus crossed the threshold, nor how vast a river of mercy would stream forth from his door down the streets of Capernaum. …(It may be that your house isn’t much; no writer has written about you or your home. No one rides by and says, “I wonder who lives there?”) Yet, is there no reason why the Lord should not visit you and make your house like that of Obed-edom, in which the ark resided, or like that of Zaccheus to which salvation came. Our Lord can make your house a center of mercy for the whole region, a little sun scattering in all directions, a spiritual dispensary distributing health to the multitudes around.” Let our prayer be, “Lord, dwell where I dwell, and in so doing make my house a blessing to the neighborhood,” marvelous results must follow.”

Tradition says that Jesus was a guest at John Mark’s mother’s home when He served the last supper. John Mark’s family thought they were just having a Passover dinner, they had no idea that Jesus was unveiling the way into the new and living way that night. So maybe you want Jesus to come to your house, don’t be surprised if you get way more than you bargained for.

EYES OF LOVE

Matt. 9:22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

This poor lady was afraid, she had been afraid for a long time. That is what rejection will do to you. She could still remember the hurt she felt when she had been banished from the house of worship. The man who banished her probably had a robe like the one Jesus was wearing. This time as she touched the edge of His robe, she felt love and acceptance rather than the rejection and scorn she had felt for twelve years. Jesus was different from that other rabbi. He was different from anyone she had ever known. When Jesus turned and looked at her she felt the love in His gaze. Rather than eyes of condemnation and rejection she was caught by His look of love. When He called her daughter, she knew she was home. She had found that place of rest she had longed for for a very long time. Charles Spurgeon was known as the prince of preachers for a reason, here are his thoughts on this verse.

“Jesus knew all that was going on behind Him. If His back be toward us now, it need not always be; for He ‘turned Him about’. Even when fear would hide from Jesus, He spies out the trembler. His eye found her speedily, for He knew where to look. “He saw her”. His voice cheered her with joyful tones of acceptance. He did not chide the blundering of her ignorance, but He commended the bravery of her faith, and consoled her trembling heart. A piece of fringe and a finger sufficed to form a contact between a believing sufferer and an Almighty Savior. Along that line faith sent its message, and love returned the answer. She ‘was made whole’, and she knew it; but she feared when she was found out lest she should lose the blessing and earn a curse. This fear soon vanished: Jesus called her ‘daughter’. He fathered her because He had created faith in her. He gave her ‘good comfort’ because she had good faith. It was His garment which she touched, but it was her faith that had touched it; therefore our Lord said, ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole’; and thus He put the crown upon the head of her faith, because her faith had already set the crown on His head. The moment we touch Jesus we are made whole; yea, ‘from that hour’. May we touch Him now, and may this hour be as memorable to us as that hour was to her!”

So maybe you have had a taste of rejection yourself. Maybe you know that look, you know the look that says you don’t belong here. You will never get that look from Jesus. Maybe it seems like He doesn’t know you exist, believe me, He does. Go ahead, try to steal a touch for yourself. Before you know it you too will be looking into those eyes of love.