MY DETERMINED PURPOSE

MY DETERMINED PURPOSE

[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [*which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] That if possible I may attain to the [*spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
Phil.3:10,11 Amplified Bible

What an incredible passage of scripture, Paul is talking about a very unusual purpose to the ears of modern man. His purpose was not influence, finances, numerical growth, or “breakthrough”, but his unusual purpose, his determined purpose, was the pursuit of God. How strange is that. Jonathan Edwards spoke often of this heavenly pursuit. Listen to his timeless words on this verse.

“From hence it may be surely inferred, wherein spiritual understanding consists. For if there be in the saints a kind of perception, which is in its nature perfectly diverse from all that natural men can have, it must consist in their having a certain kind of ideas, or sensations of mind, which are simply diverse from all that can be in the minds of natural men. And that is the same thing as to say, that it consists in the sensations of a new spiritual sense, which the souls of natural men have not; as is evident by what has been repeatedly observed. But I have already shown what that new spiritual sense is, which the saints have given them in regeneration, and what is the object of it. I have shown that the immediate object of it is the supreme beauty and excellency of the nature of divine things, as they are in themselves. And this is agreeable to the Scripture: the apostle very plainly teaches, that the great thing discovered by spiritual light, and understood by spiritual knowledge, is the glory of divine things.”

Did you hear that, the thing discovered by spiritual light or revelation is “the glory of divine things”. That is the difference in these two very different kind of lives, it is a different kind of pursuit. As the revelation of Christ deepens in our lives, we become caught up in this heavenly pursuit, and like Paul, Christ Himself becomes our determined purpose in life.

THAT I MAY KNOW HIM

THAT I MAY KNOW HIM

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Phil.3:8-10

The book of Phillipians was written from Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. This was toward the end of Paul’s life, he had been a Christian for about thirty years. Paul’s terminology is quite interesting , he talks about “knowing” Christ. Today we live in a far different time, a time of cheap grace and recited prayers. All a person has to do today is just repeat these words and now you are saved, now that you have prayed, you “know” the Lord. Do you really know the Lord in the way Paul was talking about? Paul seemed to be describing a lifetime of pursuit with increasing degrees of knowing the Lord. Mathew Henry wrote about knowing Christ over three hundred years ago, how did he view knowing Christ?

“Here the apostle explains himself. He tells us what it was that he was ambitious of and reached after: it was the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, a believing experimental acquaintance with Christ as Lord; not a merely notional and speculative, but a practical and efficacious knowledge of him. So knowledge is sometimes put for faith.”

Listen carefully again to how Henry described knowing the Lord, he said it was an “experimental acquaintance”, we would call it, in our words, experiential. Do you have an experiential knowledge of Christ? Is that relationship increasing as time goes on? If so, you are on the journey Paul was describing, a journey that will last the rest of your life. The first time you called out to the Lord, this relationship began, today it continues as you press on to know the Lord. When will this process end, actually never. In eternity it will change as we step into the fullness of His Presence, but heaven is the eternal unfolding of this infinite God. We will be growing in the knowledge of God throughout the ages.

ON THE HORIZON

ON THE HORIZON

“You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it? From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known.
They are created now, not long ago; before today you have never heard of them, lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’
You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel.
Isa. 48:6-8

Over the last two years, we have thought often of this passage of scripture. The Lord gave it to us as a church at the beginning of 2009 and again in 2010. We have been on the watch for God’s unprecedented acts in these past two years. We have seen some amazing things take place in our church in these two years, we have an anticipation of even greater things just ahead.
In the ESV Study Bible there is a short commentary of that passage in Isaiah. Listen to these observations about the acts of God just ahead, even on the horizon.

Isa. 48:6–8 Now God intends to reveal surprising new prophecies. Unprecedented acts of God are on the horizon—unprecedented, lest his own people treat his deeds dismissively.

The horizon speaks of those things just ahead of us, even in the very next day. The unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our church in 1994 taught us several lessons, one of which was how in a 24 hour period of time, everything can change. What does the next day or week have in store for you? God’s unprecedented works can suddenly explode into your life. Suddenly, as God’s new season begins, you can find yourself in the midst of His unprecedented acts, when you do, don’t shrug them off, these are the days that we live for.
In 2010 we saw a season of healing miracles. There were two ladies healed of cancer, several tumors that disappeared, someone healed of hepatitis and various other significant miracles. What does 2011 hold for us as a church, what does it have in store for you? Do you have an expectancy of new things in 2011? As we begin this new year it would be good to set aside some time to reflect on this next year. What could be on the “horizon” in your life? What miracles has the Lord placed in this calendar year for you? Maybe this is the year of soul winning in your life, or maybe the Lord will use you in His healing gifts or even His gifts of prophesy. How will these things occur? Stir up the gift of God inside of you, listen carefully for His voice, unprecedented days are on the horizon for you in 2011.

REDEEMING THE TIME

REDEEMING THE TIME

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Eph.5:15,16

We are rapidly heading into a new year, 2010 is over and 2011 is about to begin. At the end of each year it is good for us to reflect on our past year and begin to think of the new opportunities just ahead of us. In today’s scripture Paul talks about redeeming the time. What is he saying, how can I buy back lost time? Obviously we can’t buy back time that is past, but Paul is describing a supernatural lifestyle that can begin to make the very best use of our time and in some ways begin to buy back lost time. Paul talked about the way to make the best use of our time in the next few verses, he said we could do this by staying filled with the Spirit.

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Eph.5:18-20

The word Paul uses, dissipation, literally means to waste your time. He is saying we can buy time back by staying full of God. Jonathan Edwards preached a message called “Redeeming the Time”. Listen to his take on this passage.

“YOU have now heard of the preciousness of time; and you are the persons concerned, to whom God hath committed that precious talent. You have an eternity before you. When God created you, and gave you reasonable souls, he made you for an endless duration. He gave you time here in order to a preparation for eternity, and your future eternity depends on the improvement of time.—Consider, therefore, what you have done with your past time. You are not now beginning your time, but a great deal is past and gone; and all the wit, and power, and treasure of the universe, cannot recover it. Many of you may well conclude, that more than half of your time is gone; though you should live to the ordinary age of man, your glass is more than half run; and it may be there are but few sands remaining. Your sun is past the meridian, and perhaps just setting, or going into an everlasting eclipse. Consider, therefore, what account you can give of your improvement of past time. How have you let the precious golden sands of your glass run?”
2011 is just in front of us. Let’s take to heart the words of Paul and of Jonathan Edwards, stay full of God this year, as you do, you will be buying back lost time.

MY TIMES ARE IN HIS HAND

MY TIMES ARE IN YOUR HANDS

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
Ps. 31:14,15

This passage of scripture brings a sense of security and peace, resting in the Father’s plan. No matter how many enemies we have stacked against us, no matter how strong they may be, our life is held safely in the Father’s hand.
Exactly what does the Lord have in His hand? He has my family, my ministry, the day of my birth, the day of my death, He has everything orchestrated perfectly for my life. Who can separate me from the love of God? Shall life or death or sickness or poverty? If God be for me, who can be against me? Shall life or death or angels or any created being be able to hinder the plan of God in my life?

Albert Barnes wrote about this verse in his commentary, listen to his thoughts about the times of God.
“My times are in thy hand – That is, I said this in my trouble; when my friends forsook me, and when my enemies came around me and threatened my life. The meaning is, that all that pertained to him was under the control and at the disposal of God. He would ” live” as long as God should please. It was His to give life; His to preserve it; His to take it away. All in relation to life – its origin – its continuance – its changes – its seasons – childhood, youth, middle age, old age – all was in the hand of God. No one, therefore, could take his life before the time that had been appointed by God, and he might calmly commit the whole to him. This we may feel in all seasons of life and in all times of danger; of sickness; of feebleness. We shall live as long as God has appointed; we shall pass through such changes as he directs; we shall die when and where and how he chooses. In the faithful discharge of our duty, therefore, we may commit all these things to him, and leave all at his disposal.”
Thinking about the day of your death may be “different” for you, but knowing that everything, even that day, is all orchestrated brings an incredible sense of peace into our lives. Our times are in His hand and we can rest in that.
2011 is just ahead of us, even though nothing has happened, each of those days in this next year are in the hand of God. We can rest in His plans and confidently go forward knowing that the Lord has us in His hand and nothing will be able to stop His amazing plan from being fulfilled in us.

ALL THINGS NEW

ALL THINGS NEW

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”
Rev.21:5,6

This passage of scripture always reminds me of the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. During the scene in the movie where Christ is carrying His cross through the streets of Jerusalem the movie depicts Christ falling and coming briefly face to face with his mother. As their eyes met He said, “Mother, I am making all things new”. What a powerful thought, all things new. Have all things been made new in your life? How does that happen? How does He make all things new in my life?
This passage of scripture seems to say that this renewal is actually internal and is connected to drinking from the spring of “Living Water”. He says, “to the thirsty I will give from the spring of water of life without payment”. He actually makes all things new in our lives through this spiritual drinking. For many, spiritual things are not relevant to their daily activities, but to those who know Him, drinking this water of life is the very source of our life.
What does He make new in our lives? Our love for Him becomes new, our passion and understanding of His Word becomes new, our love for the lost is made new, our love for the house of God becomes new. He literally renews every part of our lives. As we begin a brand new year we can actually start with a clean slate, He washes our past clean and makes our heart clean and new.
How does this renewal actually happen and what is my role in this process? Remember what Jesus said in John 7, “everyone who is thirsty, come and drink”, He repeated almost the same words in this passage, “To the thirsty” He addresses His invitation. Come and drink from the water of life. Drink in as you worship, drink in as you soak in His word, drink in as you go to the house of God. As you do, His words begin to take effect inside of you. He begins to make all things new, the best news is that that this miracle is starting inside of you today. 2011 can be the best of all years, come and drink, He is making all things new.

THE CHRISTMAS TREASURE

THE CHRISTMAS TREASURE

6 “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,* and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.
Haggai 2:6,7

Several years ago, I was blessed while reading Christmas poems, and the Lord put it on my heart to write one each year. This passage out of Haggai has always been special to me, Jesus is the DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS. The longings of all men from all times and all nations are satisfied only in Christ. This year, in the midst of all our worries, troubles and seasonal distractions, my prayer is that all of your desires will be met in Christ. Enjoy my poem for 2010.

Christmas Treasure

A long lonely night
Like all those before
Searching my heart for answers
Then, a knock at the door

The Stranger had a look
Seldom seen never known
There was something about Him
That was calling me home

His face lit the room
His words were like gold
More precious than diamonds
Once purchased never sold

And then it did happen
His voice like the wind
The love of the Father
Was reeling me in

The DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS
The hidden treasure of old
The Son becomes man
More precious than gold

We are all in search of something, some treasure that will complete our lives. Growing up, Christmas always held this hope for me. “Maybe I will get what I really want for Christmas,” it was always a letdown. All of these desires are finally met in Christ. He is the Treasure, He is the DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS. All our hopes and dreams are finally met in Christ. Today, as children of all ages in every nation awake, hoping to find their Christmas treasure, we are reminded again of the historic treasure found in Christ. Christ Himself is the DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS. When we discover His love, all our hopes and dreams are satisfied. This Christmas will be the best as we look to Him for our satisfaction.

THE HEAVENS ARE SINGING

THE HEAVENS ARE SINGING

“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Isa.55:12

Isaiah spoke about the impact the coming of the Lord would have on creation itself, he described the heavens as rejoicing at the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth. What else could we expect, creation is designed to reveal the Glory of God, it cannot keep silent as Jesus Himself enters into creation in Bethlehem from the womb of a virgin. The Creator enters into His creation, the heavens have to respond. Have you ever thought, really thought about what it meant for Christ to become a man? How could the Creator become part of His own creation? How could the infinite submit to being finite, how could immortality put on mortality? That is the mystery of the incarnation. God actually became a man. Here is another of my Christmas poems. I hope you enjoy.

THE HEAVENS ARE SINGING

The promise was given
Before time began
Revealed in a stable
This God became man

Born of the Father
Revealed in His Son
Rejoicing together
Their lives were as one

The heavens were singing
The hills clapped their hands
The Father rejoicing
His Son became man

The donkey was braying
The dogs barking too
Creation was singing
He’s making all things new

Some hearts were hardened
Their ears were shut fast
The savior had come
The first would be last

The mystery of God
Concealed from all time
Revealed in His Son
His love became mine

Today the anticipation in creation deepens as the return of Jesus Christ draws near. Paul said creation is groaning in preparation for His return. One of the most famous Christmas songs, Joy to the World, was actually originally written about the millenial reign of Christ. As we celebrate the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem this Christmas, we must remember His return is drawing near. Merry Christmas to you and your house.

FIRST THINGS

FIRST THINGS

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”* which is translated, “God with us.”
Matt.1:22,23

The first time we experience something seems to have a profound and lasting effect on us. We remember first steps, first home run, first kiss, first car, we all have our list of “firsts”. One of those “firsts” is locked away in my heart like none of the others. What “first” was that? It was my first Christmas as a christian.
I had always loved Christmas as a child, I loved the magical aspect of that special day. I remember the chocolate covered cherries, the bowl of walnuts and pecans, and of course all of the toys. I remember so many sleepless Christmas Eves, sneaking into the living room by the tree to see what Santa had brought that year.
Those were special years, but none of them can compare to that Christmas in 1973. That year was special for a different reason. It wasn’t special because of the gifts, there weren’t many of those. It wasn’t special because of the tree, all we could fit in our little trailer was a “Charlie Brown” kind of tree. It wasn’t especially memorable for the budget starved meals, they were meager at best. What made 1973 so special? That year I started reading the Christmas cards for the first time in my life. Many of them had prophetic Old Testament verses about the birth of Christ. Somehow, in the reading of those verses in the cards, reading the Christmas story for the first time as a Christian, and atending worship services with my Christian friends, my eyes began to open. I began to see the greatest of all miracles, God Himself had come amongst us in the form of a man. Immanuel, God with us, had been born in an animal stable in Bethlehem. Christmas was more than candy and toys, more than parties and friends. It was even more than the special family get togethers, God had come near. Jesus, the Savior had come to save us from our sins. I will never forget that Christmas in 1973. Parris and I were in our trailer, far away from home, sitting in front of our Charlie brown Christmas tree. We did not have any expensive gifts under that tree but we had discovered the most valuable treasure of all. The virgin had conceived and brought forth a Son, His Name is Immanuel, God with us.

LET’S GO TO BETHLEHEM

LET’S GO TO BETHLEHEM

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”
Lk.2:8-10

This is a Christmas poem from December 2005. Have you ever realized your life is not accidental, that there is a plan unfolding for you. Every detail of your life is orchestrated by the master composer. He is unfolding His glorious symphony in your life. Enjoy this poem, maybe you will turn from a casual observer to a witness of the Glory of the Lord.

LET’S GO TO BETHLEHEM

Let’s go to Bethlehem
I heard a shepherd say
He was rambling about some angels
He supposed he saw that day

Something about the throne of David
His words were strange to me
A virgin and a baby boy
A song about God’s mystery

God’s Glory shone from heaven
I heard him clearly say
A King born in a manger
God’s love came near today

I turned and followed closely
My heart thumped in reply
Could this be why I’m living
A king just born to die

Then something burned inside me
This Glory from on high
God’s mystery from heaven
The King who was born to die

I’ve never seen such kindness
Such power and such grace
This King revealed from Glory
He died to take my place

While others are distracted from what is truly valuable, you can stand with eyes wide open gazing into the glory of God’s revelation in Christ. Have you been given “eyes to see?” If so, Christmas is more than cards, shopping, and parties, it is truly the season to be jolly. Like the shepherd’s of old, let’s go to Bethlehem to see this thing that the Lord has done.
Merry Christmas to you as we celebrate the glorious appearing of our Savior 2000 years ago. You never know, this could be the time of His second appearing.