Friday, February 24, 2012
1Pe 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
1Pe 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
1Pe 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
Things which the angels desire to look into
To the carnal, earthly, degraded mind of man — the mystery of the Person of Christ, of the cross, of the sufferings, blood-shedding, and death of Jesus, whereby He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself — is foolishness. He sees no beauty, blessedness, or glory in the Person of the Son of God — nor any wisdom or grace in atoning blood and dying love.
But not so with these bright and pure beings! They see in the Person and work of Christ not only the depths of infinite wisdom in the contrivance of the whole plan of redemption, and of power in its execution and full accomplishment — but they see such lengths, breadths, depths, and heights of love as fill their minds with holy wonder, admiration and praise. They see in His incarnation, humiliation, sufferings, blood-shedding, and death — such unspeakable treasures of mercy and grace as ever fill their minds with wonder and admiration; and they long to understand the depths of such a love, but they cannot -- these wonders are for the bride alone. All lambs of the Living God should be ever seeking and inquiring into this heavenly mystery, that we may discover in it ever new and expanding treasures of the wisdom, grace, mercy, truth, and love of God. It is to our shame, my friends, that this vision of Eternal Love, in its sacrificial essence is not always before our eyes. Tonight I want to look into this scene of our Lord's offering of Himself, and share a few thoughts that He has laid on my heart.
Let your mind and spirit come with me now to view that day on the hill of Golgatha,
To see, by the eye of faith, as revealed by the
power of God — our savior bound, scourged,
whipped, spit upon, mocked—and then, as the climax,
crucified between two thieves.
But what we see, is that this was the
smallest part of His sufferings— there were yet depths of
soul trouble and agony from the
hand of God as a consuming fire, in justice
and righteous indignation against rebellion, sin, and corruption; that our
Lord had to endure until He was poured
out like water, and His heart, in the fires of
judgment became like wax, and melted within Him.
It was not the nails driven through His hands and feet — it was not the crown of thorns forced upon His brow — it was not the stripes which mangled His back — it was not the languor and faintness under which He suffered — nor the loss of blood that caused the Lord to die. It was not the mere bodily agony of the cross — it was not simply the pain of the nails driven through His hands and feet, as severe as this must have been -- It was not the being stretched upon the cross six hours, that constituted the chief part of the Redeemer's suffering.
No, far more severe, were the agonies of His
soul — the wrath of God in the Redeemer's heart was so much
more devastating than the nails that pierced His hands and feet,
or the thorns upon His head.
It was this load of imputed sin — the imputed sins of millions — a load unbearable for any other -- it was the tremendous pouring of the wrath of God into His innocent soul — it was the hiding of His Father's face, and the very fires of hell that sought to take hold of Him -- as prophesied in His Word: Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. Our suffering Savior drank the cup of the wrath of God to the very dregs — when the penalties for our rebellion were laid upon Him -- it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; as Isaiah wrote: He has put Him to grief: when You shall make His soul an offering for sin. This is what claimed our Savior's life: it was not the nails.
Uncounted thousands may have died in greater bodily agony than our Lord, for He only suffered in body for six hours. Martyrs have perished in the flames, in dungeons, at the hand of the executioner, and on crosses, as burning torches lining the roads of Rome. But of all the generations of men, none have ever felt what the Lord endured in His soul — for He had to suffer in His soul what the elect of God -- His lambs -- would have had to suffer in hell, if He had not paid the price for them; and this eternity of pain, is what He endured in those same six hours.
What is the body anyway? We all know that our body is not the chief seat of suffering. It is the soul that feels, and rejoices, and mourns. All of our deepest agonies are of the soul. It was so with our Lord as well. It is true, His body was racked and torn — but it was the racking of His soul in which lay His chief agonies. And the greatest of all was the final stroke of God reserved for His last moments — the last drop of the cup in all its bitterness — which was hiding His face from His Son. Nothing else but this last bitter drop extorted the cry of suffering from His lips:
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
But when, to crown all the scene of suffering, the Father hid His face from Him — that was more than His soul could bear.
In the words of Thomas Morton:
"What heart can conceive or tongue express what must have
been the feelings of the Redeemer's soul when He, the beloved
Son of God, who who had lain in the bosom of the Father from
all eternity, was by imputation, made a sinner—the deep wounds
of suffering love felt by the Son of God when His Father, His own
Father, hid His face from Him?"
That instinctively evoked from Him that plaintive cry — such a cry as earth had never before or since — a cry which made the sun to hide its face as if in sackcloth; caused the earth to shake; rending the veil, and tearing open the very graves as if the world could no longer hold its dead. And I guess that is the point: at the foot of the cross, is pardon and peace
for the guilty. Here is thorough justification for the
condemned. Here is salvation,
complete and everlasting, for all the redeemed family of
God. Here is a fountain, ever full and free. Here is
a robe, in which the Bride stands without blemish
and without spot before the throne of God. Here mercy is
magnified everlastingly. Here dying, sacrificial love displays itself in all its
breadth, and length, and depth, and height. Here, my friends, grace,
all-glorious, all-triumphant grace, reigns unto eternal life,
by Jesus Christ our Lord!
It says in His Word: Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. His death of sacrificial love gives weight to His words and a certainty to their promise.
There is no beginning to the love of Christ, for it existed from eternity. Neither is there any end to that love. His love then, is as eternal as He is. What strength it is for those who live and walk in the love of Christ, to know that it is from everlasting to everlasting—that no incidents of time—no storms of sin or Satan—can ever change or alter that eternal love—but that it remains now and will remain the same to all eternity. The love of Christ to His people is eternal, unchanging, and unchangeable.
This eternal, unchanging character of the love of Christ gives us strength and power to stand upon—apart from our fluctuating feelings—our wavering frames—and the changes that always seem to come in our thoughts, hearts and lives. The love of Christ to us is not changing and changeable like ours to Him—but it abides forever, as He does. Jesus freely, fully, and unchangeably loves those who were given to Him by the Father in the councils of eternity—and presented to Him as His spouse and bride.
Christ's love to His bride was love at first sight. For when she was presented to Him by the Father that she might be His spouse—as soon as He beheld His chosen bride He fell in love with her—for He saw her not sunk and fallen—but in all her beauty as clothed in the fullness of that glory in which she will one day shine forth—when she sits down with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb!
Nothing can quench or destroy the love of Christ! It will prevail over sin, death, and hell—yes, over every impediment and obstacle—until it achieves the final victory, and in all the blaze of His glory — it will fill heaven with its eternal magnificence.
So, my friends, keep this vision of His sacrifice ever before you, and do not shy away from it or forget it; for it is the highest and greatest glory of God and all creation; and it is life itself, life eternal unto all who believe. Amen.
Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Rom 8:27 And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, He teaches us what to pray for; as a sanctifying Spirit, He works and stirs up the need and the desire to pray; as a comforting Spirit, He silences our fears, and helps us over all discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the wellspring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the renewed mind and will of the spirit, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, in sublime and affecting cries, which cannot be expressed in language.
Sublime and affecting cries, which cannot be expressed in any articulate language outside the Spirit of God.
We do not know what we ought to pray for. What shall we say before the our Heavenly Father? With what feelings, with what language, with what arguments shall we unburden our hearts, unveil our sorrows, confess our sins, and make known our requests? How shall we overcome the remembrance of past stumblings, the convictions of present guilt, the pressure of deep need, and the overwhelming sense of the Divine Majesty? Regularly, all believers feel these uncertainties within themselves -- we can sense that our need is great; but we often do not know quite where to begin, or even how best to approach Him . . . sometimes it almost seems that our prayers are beset in an atmosphere of uncertainty, confusion, and distraction:
Guilt troubles our conscience;
doubt vexes our spirits;
a sense of ignorance invades our soul;
a crowd of foolish wanderings and evil imaginations distract our thoughts;
and in the midst of all this -- satan hurls his fiery darts, with their accusations of infidelity, fast and furious in his attempt to raise a cloud of doubt over the Mercy Seat;
so that amid all this throng and confusion, our thoughts become muddled and our words seem as idle breath, or the imagined fruit of our own impotence.
In this scene of confusion and distraction, when all seems going to the wreck — the Spirit comes, as it were, to the aid of the saint, to teach him how to pray and even what to pray for. He even writes the prayer, so to speak. Do not think that that spiritual petition, which breathed from your lips and rose as an incense-cloud before the mercy-seat, was other than the composition of the Holy Spirit. He inspired that prayer, He created those desires, and He awoke those groanings. The form of your petition may have been ungraceful, your language simple, your sentences broken, yet there was an eloquence and a power in that prayer which reached the heart and moved the arm of God. And whose eloquence and whose power was it? It was the power of God's Holy Spirit – only of His interceding Spirit. He teaches us what to pray for. Many and urgent as our needs are, we only accurately know them as the Spirit makes them known to us. But the Spirit reveals our deepest needs, convinces us of our emptiness, our poverty, and of our longings for God, and teaches us what blessings to ask, what evils to stand against, and what mercies we need to implore.
He puts us at ease with our infirmity in prayer, by showing to our soul the loving character of God. Sealing within our hearts a sense of our Divine adoption, He emboldens us to approach God with the love of a son and with a child-like confidence. He leads us to God as our Father while pleading the shed blood of Yeshua before the Throne to prevent satan's spirits of confusion and confrontation from invading in these times of communion with the Living God. He is always here within us, my friends, to comfort, to intercede, to instruct, and to strengthen. As we seek the Throne in prayer; He gives sight to our spirits, that we may see that blood on the Mercy Seat, and know that He hears us.
When the soul is led by His Spirit in prayer, my beloved, its petitions are a spiritual sacrifice, pleasing in the eyes of our Lord, and its cries enter the very ears of Heaven; as it written:
And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.
Lord, all my desire is before You. My groaning is not hidden from You.
Monday, February 13, 2012
It is good that a lamb be examined regularly by his Shepherd -- amen."
I have begun a new series of morning devotionals called
Morning Glorious! at my newest podcast site.
The initial podcast is now up @
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
"The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping." Psalm 6:8
How often has prayer found me grieving; weeping almost in despair; but left me triumphant in His hope and assurance.
Tears have a voice, and God has an ear to our groanings, our sighs, and our wimpers, just as upon our prayers.
The burdened tears of His lambs are divine ambassadors, which never return from the throne of Heaven without answers of grace. Peter
said nothing, but went out and wept bitterly — and obtained mercy. These bitter tears are an unarticulateable utterance of the soul, prompted by the Holy Spirit;
that will prevail for His mercy.
There is a voice in weeping; it does speak, it utters its meaning in that universal tongue which is known and understood in all the earth, and even in heaven above. When a man weeps, it is the inexpressible eloquence of his sorrow, needing no interpreter, but understood of all -- our tears are understood even when words fail us.
Our prayerful weeping is a witness of our spiritual life; these deep groans and sighs are a constant flow of importunate intercession; they are the pantings of His holiness, implanted deep within our hearts, hungering and thirsting after righteousness. They are also the outward expression to God of the grief within our own soul, for we suffer when we are tempted, or anytime His holiness within us feels contact with evil.
The spiritual sighs and groanings of the believer are interpreted by God as the prayers of a broken and a contrite heart -- our sobbings of the soul are of great price in His sight, and bring Him praise and honor, as the smell of sweet sacrifice. The believer's moans resonate throughout heaven: as His Word proclaims, "the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping," "and my groaning is not hid from Thee".
Our tears speak to Him of godly sorrow, our moans as the breathings of a contrite spirit. God hears the cry of our soul, the voice of our tears sometimes better than the voice of our words; for it is the Spirit itself that makes intercession for us within these groans, and in these tears, which we cannot utter -- these devout, and simple tears, which cannot speak of their own, speak loud in the ears of God, my friends. These flowing overtures of repentance, pouring out of the sorrow of the heart and the groaning of the spirit, open the very doors of our soul to our Risen Lord, the Living God, that He may enter into His temple, setting the captive free. "From heaven does the Lord behold the earth: to hear the groaning of the prisoner." (J C Philpot)
I will leave you with the testimony of His Word:
"The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer."
"Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee"
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities"
"I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears."
"For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
"They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble"
"A lamb's face never shines so beautiful, as when it is bedewed with penitential tears." (Thomas Brooks)
Saturday, February 4, 2012
I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3
I have loved thee: I, who am the great God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; a God of infinite purity and holiness; the Lord that changes not: and His love is like unto Himself: it is sovereign, unchangeable, and eternal.
Hear the testimony of Jude: .... To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and preserved in Christ Jesus ...
God's people have had a vital, living union with Christ, long before
our awakening unto Him in this life -- we have, and have always had an
eternal, immanent union with Him before all worlds were created.
It is by virtue of this eternal union that we come into the world . . .
at such a time,
at such a place,
from such parents,
and under such circumstances,
as God has appointed.
It is by virtue of this eternal union that the circumstances
of our lives are ordained. By virtue of this eternal union
we are preserved in Christ, even before we are awakened by His Spirit.
The lamb will not pass until God has reawakened that vital
union with Christ within him.
Whatever sickness we may pass through—whatever
injuries we may be exposed to—whatever perils assault
us — perish we will not, we cannot;
until God's purposes in us are executed.
Thus, this eternal union watched over every circumstance
of our birth, watched over our childhood, watched over us until the appointed
time and spot, when the God of all grace, according to
His eternal purpose, quickened our hearts, and awakened us,
renewing this eternal union with the Lord of all life and glory.
You see, my friends, the love of Christ is eternal; it is not a passion of His humanity — but a witness to, and a perfection of His divinity. He has always existed — and He has always loved His people. His people . . .
have always had a place in His bosom,
have ever been before His eye, and
have always been loved by Him.
Hear the words of our Lord from Proverbs:
Pro 8:30 Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him;
Pro 8:31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
He has loved us — ever since He knew us — and He knew us from before all creation. His love has run through the boundless ages of eternity past — and fixed upon those who were His; and having fixed upon us — His love forever maintains its hold.
When He created the earth, spread abroad the Heavens, and gave His decree to the sea — His love was fixed upon His people. Their welfare, in connection with His Father's glory was the object which He sought in all things.
When we consider the dim past; even flowing into the mists of eternity — there is an echo that resounds within all of our hearts: our Savior loved us then; He loved us from all eternity; always, has He loved us; and always will He love us. My friends . . .
before worlds existed,
before devils appeared,
before sin was committed;
we were the delight of His heart.
His love to us is as eternal as His nature — without beginning of days, or end of years; and from His love, as from a mighty river, flows . . .
all the acts of His power,
all the displays of His benevolence,
all the manifestations of His grace, and
all the provisions of His gospel.
This witness and testimony of His love has been a beacon shining through His Word, and the hearts of His lambs down through the centuries:
We are a chosen generation, my friends, a royal priesthood.
Every believer is a chosen vessel. The body of our Lord had its origin in Jehovah's eternal choice. This eternal choice . . .
is an exercise of His Divine sovereignty;
yet, it flows from Divine love;
for it secures the lamb's salvation and God's eternal glory.
He chose us in Christ before the creation of the world. It was a choice of pure grace and love; but it was also an election unto holiness -- unto His holiness:
We were chosen to be . . .
redeemed from curse;
purified from sin;
separated from the world;
wedded unto the Lamb; and therefore,
eternally one with Jehovah.
Being chosen of God -- we choose Him in return.
His choice caused ours; it was not the other way around.
As it says in His Word:
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Do you remember, my friends, the days before you were awakened? Always searching for God;
but never quite apprehending -- you had learned the language of Christ, forgiveness, and grace;
but what, in your heart did you truly know of these things? Nothing, absolutely nothing!
Ignorant of your own ignorance — you thought yourself rich,
and increased with goods, and to have need of
nothing—and you knew not that you were wretched,
miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
Then, in His own time, Almighty God reached into your world
and you were never the same again. In that one instant, you were awakened,
and called out -- in that world altering flash you saw, at once . . .
God and self,
justice and guilt,
power and helplessness,
a holy law and a broken commandment,
eternity and time,
the purity of the Creator, and
the filthiness of the man.
And these things you saw, and you received — not merely as
promises — but as personal, living realities, encompassing all
of your struggles and all of your joys in time and
in eternity; as though a new existence had been communicated,
a new dimension had been opened, and a new life was given.
It was as though all your days you had been asleep,
and were now awakened -- as if all
your past life were a dream, and in this dream, you had been:
hunting butterflies and chasing bubbles;
picking daisies and playing games building houses of cards --
and the dream was now at an end.
But now awakened by the power of Almighty God, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, and enlivened by the Spirit of Truth;
you travel as one apart, for you are now forever conscious that you have been redeemed and set apart by the Living God.
In this new walk, through this anointing from the Holy One, you see that you can do all things, be all things, and bear all things.
Though. we soon find that we can no longer abide all things -- because we have seen the glory of God and have been filled with His Truth,
we can no longer stomach the lie we see everywhere about us in the world we were once so attached to -- The main characteristic of a child of God is that he is now a
stranger upon earth. One of the first effects of the
grace of God upon our soul was to separate us from
the world, and make us feel ourselves estranged from it.
The world was once our home — the active, busy center
of all our thoughts, desires, and affections. But when His
grace planted His imperishable principles of life into our bosom,
it at once separated us from the world in heart and spirit; life, and walk.
We are strangers by the power of divine grace making
this world a wilderness to us.
This may seem a strange path in which to return to eternity; but this is only because of our limited perspective, the wilderness journey is part of His plan;
as it says in His Word: Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.
When you are in the wilderness, you have no friend — no creature help — no worldly comfort — these have all abandoned you. God has led you into the wilderness to separate you from these earthly ties of creature refuges and vain hopes, that He may Himself become your help, your friend, your comfort; and speak His Words of life, and love to your soul.
If, then, you are separated from the world by being brought into the wilderness — if you are passing through trials and afflictions — if you are exercised with a variety of temptations — and are brought into that spot where the creature yields — it is because then, and only then, are you made to see, feel, and understand that nothing but God living and breathing with power deep within your soul can give you any solid grounds of rest or peace. It may be painful — it is painful — but it is profitable, because by it we learn to look to the Lord and the Lord alone — and this must ever be the lesson to learn for every child of God.
Hear the words of Peter, my friends, ... you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people ...
The Son of God gave Himself to purify unto the Father a peculiar people — a people whose thoughts are peculiar, for their thoughts are the thoughts of God — a people whose affections are peculiar, for they are fixed on things above — a people whose prayers are peculiar, for they are wrought in their heart by the Spirit of grace and supplication — a people whose sorrows are peculiar, because they spring from a spiritual renewal — a people whose joys are peculiar, for they are joys of a soul at peace with God — a people whose hopes are peculiar, as anchored within the veil — a people whose expectations are peculiar, as witnessed in His Word:
Psa 107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
Psa 107:3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
Psa 107:4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
Psa 107:5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
Psa 107:6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
Psa 107:7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
And the only city of habitation, our only place of refuge, is the City of God, from which we departed for our sojourn here according to His will; and our only path of return, my friends, runs through the Blood, the resurrection, and the renewal in the wilderness.
We confess to be strangers and pilgrims here on earth. The people of God are expected to be different from the world. We profess to be of another Spirit, and to be the sons of God. We look for a new heaven and a new earth, for that coming of His Holy City, wherein alone dwells Righteousness.
His Spirit encourages us to be watchful, prayerful, diligent, holy, patient, thankful, and expectant .......
and to set little value on the things of time and space, for our hearts and our eyes should be fixed on the things which are eternal.
For we, ourselves, if we be lambs of the Living God, are of these things which are eternal.