Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Monday, August 21, 2017
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. - Psalm 42:1
Julian of Norwich was a medieval follower of Christ. In a day of darkness where form so easily took over any sense of believers intimacy with Christ, she wrote a classic volume on knowing God's love. A quote from her writing says, "God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself; for Thou art enough for me." She came to the experience the wonderful way of seeking God alone for only Himself. She understood that in intimacy with God she found life and peace itself. This again is the heart and core of worship and secret to a life of fullness and fruitfulness.
Recently when re-reading the book of Revelation, I saw again the wonderful picture of what our end goal is in Christian life. St. John recounts the majestic picture for us, "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne" (Revelation 5:6). The thought that struck me was that Christian life itself, its purpose, goal and meaning comes down to this one thing: "The wounded Lamb." This is the centerpiece of the heavenly throne room, the living Christ, the resurrected Christ. He is the one we see and the Throne of God where the heavenly Father sits. Oh what glories are at His right hand. This, dear believer, is our goal and our ultimate purpose, to know this God, this "Lamb." To find our satisifaction in Him alone. The entirety of heaven revolves around the person of God and should not our earthly lives be the same?
As Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22), we also should desire that inner life of fellowship with God. God had always sought for fellowship with man and intimacy even when Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:8). The wonderful truth for us today is that God can be found and known. This can happen for us in any walk of life, in any situatiion, whether a dungeon cell or in the most beautiful Church sanctuary. God not only desires but allows Himself to be found by us. This finding of God can happen in the quiet contemplation of a cell or the in busyness of life. Yet it is too easy to miss Him and find ourselves filling life with even times of christian songs, bible readings and even prayer. God is missed in these things because He is not sought for but only treated as an end for our own means. We can sadly seek God to appease our guilty conscience alone, ask for temporal help and blessings, attend Church simply to check it off on our list of moral things to do. This is the picture of coming to a stream as the Psalmist potrays but then not being willing to drink of its goodness. A parched dry tongue, not willing to refresh itself in the very person of God who can only satisfy the longing of the soul.
Christian life always begins this way, when we see the great sacrifice of the cross of Christ, the wounded Lamb. We fall on our faces in worship in thankfulness for His love towards us. Daily we cannot help but praise and thank God, not because we have to but because of experiencing His love and person. But sadly as life passes along, days become weeks and months become years. We are prone to wander from the place of intimacy, of worship, of seeking God alone. Perhaps this is a reminder for you or perhaps today this is God calling back to you saying, "My son, my daughter, come back to Me. Spend time with Me. I have longed for your fellowship and adoration." Then again our eyes will brim with tears and our hearts will fill with love for the One that we will eternally be praising around the very throne of God.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. - Revelation 2:4
Over the years we hear many explanations of the reasons why our Lord spoke so strongly to the Ephesian Church about their loss of their "first love." Our Lord summed up the entire Old Testament in one sentence, paraphrased: "Love God and Love Others." This love has action and proof to it. Intense and sincere devotion to Jesus Christ will produce a life of godliness and good works. Jesus was calling his Church back to practical worship, godliness and a denying of worldliness. They had hatred of evil, endured persecution in their society (Revelation 2:3), were able to spot false teachers and doctrines (Revelation 2:2) and even hated the major evil doctrine of the day taught by the deacon Nicolas (Revelation 2:6). Yet slowly love of pleasures were mingling into their affections for Jesus Christ alone. They passion they had for Him and Him alone was beginning to wane. Their looking to the cross and seeing the "lover of their souls" was something that lost its luster at least for a moment.
Nicolas began as a full-hearted believer full of the Spirit of God (Acts 6:2-6). Yet slowly through self-importance he went away from the teaching of the Apostles and formed his own teaching and way.
David Wilkerson says of Nicolas of Antoich, "The church fathers had two cardinal rules for believers - do not eat meat offered to idols and avoid fornication. Nicolas evidently fathered a doctrine that led to idolatry and fornication. The society of that day winked at sexual promiscuity. Nicolas and his followers invented a doctrine of false security that eventuated in mixture with the world and an undercurrent of sensuality in their teaching."
Clement of Alexandria said of the Nicolaitans, "They abandoned themselves to pleasures like goats, in a life of shameless self indulgence."
How do we not lose and forsake our love for the Son of God:
1. Look to Him alone for nothing else but Him. It is God that is our goal, not success, money, fame or anything else the world can offer. Give God your love and worship.
2. Pleasures are always fighting us for our affection for Jesus Christ. Our worship for Him must overcome and let Him be our satisfaction not passing worldly pleasures.
3. Look to the cross. It is there you find meaning, fulfillment, peace, joy and life eternal. Meditate on the cross. Daily thank the Lord for His death.
4. Look to yourself more then others. Instead of seeing others faults, look to your own. See the apostate deacon Nicolas in the early church as a warning sign to look inward in your own life. Are you submitting to what is the apostles doctrines today? Are you believing what the Church has always held to or are you trying to make your new teachings and ideas? The road to apostasy always begins with the separation from the people of God which leads to a leaving of God Himself.
5. Love others, find ways to do good to others. Think of others more then yourself. And you will find peace.
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Sometimes our life seems to spiritually become foggy and we lose sight of what really matters. Pressures, trials, circumstances come in like weeds crowding out the very purpose and reason why we exist. When we lose sight of the cross, when we begin to lose our desire to praise and thank the Lord, we can know that we are failing to really focus on the matter of first importance. Christ was the one that became flesh, who shared our humanity. He suffered and died, and God resurrected him. He is our hope, our sure foundation, our mighty fortress, our promise of eternal life. Our response must be praise, thanksgiving, a singing of hallelujah. As St. Peter opened his epistle with "praise" we should also begin each day with praise to our God.
There is a wonderful chorus that goes: "Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Ha-Hallelujah, Ha-Hallelujah, Ha-Hallelujah, Ha-Hallelujah, Ha-Hallelujah." Take time even now while reading this short mediation to praise Jesus, He is longing for your adoration. Look again to the cross, see its beauty and glory. Glorify the risen saviour who paid so much for you. Thank Him who died for you. Heaven will be filled with praise and thanksgiving. God is looking for worshippers in the work of the Lord. It has been noted by godly men that we sing songs about God but our need is to sing worship to Him. Jesus deserves and desires this attention and focus. God alone our goal and sight. Look to Him today, take time to praise Him. This will be our heavenly occupation, enjoy it now.