Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Hope of Glory - January 26, 2014

Colossians 1:27 - to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
There is an innate desire in humankind to be partakers of beauty and splendor. We can be inspired by the grandeur of a setting sun over the expansive Grand Canyon, or be in awe of the beauty and majesty of the crashing surf along an idyllic coastline. These can be glorious settings that are merely expressions of their Creator and His very nature. To truly understand these awe inspiring scenes that we behold in His creation, one has to know the Maker who replicates His character over and over again to the visible eye. He hints to us of His glory and the immeasurable splendor of His majesty by these visual tokens. He beckons all, stating that paradise lost will once again be paradise regained if only we believe. What we now see is only a miniscule portion of the glory yet to be revealed to the chosen of God. Paul understood this when he spoke in context of what seemed like suffering in this present life compared to the one to come: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us(Romans 8:18).

As Paul states, we will never know on this side of the veil the glory to be revealed. One thing is clear, however, that no one has experienced the fullest measure of His glory in human form. Even Moses was told by God that he could not experience God's presence to the fullest or death of his mortal body would be certain (Exodus 33:20-23). Sinful flesh cannot experience the fullness of God's glory because of the holy nature of the manifest presence of God. Paul tells us in another place in Romans that all have sinned and "fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Whatever God had designed for His people was aborted by sin and its effects. The perversion of iniquity created a wall of separation that gave us eyes of sin that could never behold the true beauty of His revealed glory. That's why eyes that can only see the natural will never truly understand that there is a supernatural God of glory behind the beauty revealed all around us. It takes eyes of faith that can only come through a relationship with our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So how do we experience God's glory? Moses was awarded the honor in scripture to be called the "friend of God" (Exodus 33:11). This prophet and leader of Israel is a typology for the believer to understand that we too can experience the intimacy of God upon this earth while waiting for the manifestation of glory beyond the veil that separates the mortal from the immortal. Just as there was an intimacy between God and Moses, Jesus also called us friends if we kept His commandments (John 15:14). If Jehovah revealed Himself to Moses, how much more will Jesus reveal Himself to those who love Him and obey Him? The former covenant that Moses delivered through the law was beyond keeping -- it was impossible for any son of Adam to fulfill in the sinful flesh inherited from the first man. However, even through 40 years of disobedience and rebellion, God allowed Moses and the children of Israel to continually behold His Shekinah Glory in the cloud of His presence by day and the fire of His glory by night (Exodus 13:21-22). This was such a manifestation of the visible glory and splendor of God that the children of Israel cried out at one point that they were in danger of death if they continued in God's presence: Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." (Exodus 20:19). However, Jesus Christ, through the new covenant by His blood brought us near to God to experience Him with the very eyes of faith that He has given to all who would but believe (Ephesians 2:13). Even so, the "hope of glory" that Paul speaks of in our lead verse is full of unfilled desire or longing regarding seeing with faith-filled eyes. It is spiritually charged with the yearning that hope creates but is also peaceful and trusting in the assurance of its revelation by the faith given by our friend, Jesus. No longer do we need to fall short of His glory, Beloved! He has purchased us and befriended us if we will but obey. There will be no need for us to say to Jesus, "Show us Your glory!", for He has given us every spiritual blessing both in this life and the one to come (Ephesians 1:3). We merely need to believe and open our eyes to begin to experience the greatness of His glory here on earth as we will also experience one day in heaven (Ephesians 1:17-19).

While the beauty of this earth will always be resplendent in its own glory, there are other wonders that God desires to show us if we will but yield Him the eyes of our hearts. The viewing of nature becomes a "SUPER-natural" experience once we put on the eyes of God. If we will but open up our minds and hearts there is so much more than nature that He desires to share. To be captivated by the heart of God and to live daily experiencing His glory in all things around one's self is an adventure that only few will ever know. God desires that none of us would fall short of His glory. He longs for our daily participation in His glorious works, while always hoping for the day when we see Him in all of His splendor. We are always growing toward that wondrous day if we know Christ -- if He is truly in us and moving through us. For only as we know that Christ is living within, only then will we experience His glory day after day and hope for that glorious day of revealing!

Heavenly Father, thank you that Jesus Christ died so that we might live always in Your glory. Thank you for Your works of splendor here on earth and the glory to be revealed beyond the veil. Keep us ever mindful of the gift of glory You have given for all to share who would but believe. Praise to You ... the all Glorious One! In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Eternal Life - January 19, 2014

I John 2:25 - This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.

Life on earth without the Spirit of God's indwelling is merely life -- a passing shadow of the eternal. Life testifies to the greatness of God and is His constant reminder to us that life eternal awaits all those who would but trust in His Son. The vast majority of humankind go through their daily lives without a thought that everything around them testifies of God, speaking to them continually regarding His greatest gift to all -- eternal life in Jesus Christ. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat are all temporal reminders that we are sustained by something much greater than ourselves. We are mindful that we need these basics to continue to experience life as we know it. How much more their eternal counterparts? We all need oxygen to continue to fill our lungs, just as the Holy Spirit desires to fill our "spiritual lungs" with His presence. Even as Jesus breathed on His disciples after His resurrection to receive the "breath of God" so He is ever desirous to give the same eternal gift to us all (John 20:22). Jesus told the woman at the well that He would give her eternal water that would forever satisfy her need (John 4:14), and later at the great feast He cried out that rivers of living water would flow from the very spirit of those who would believe (John 7:37-38). Finally, Jesus tells us that He is the Bread of Life and that no man will ever hunger or thirst who comes to Him (John 6:35). God gives us the gift of life that sustains us here on earth and offers us freely their eternal counterpart if we will but believe. Even until the night before His crucifixion, Jesus spoke this message of eternal life through faith in Him. Jesus' desire along with His Father's was that all who would believe would be one with Them (John 17:21). To be one, Jesus knew that He must swallow up death and sin by His death, burial, and resurrection. He must now become the Life Giver for every man, woman, or child that would trust in Him for their eternal sustenance.

When we know that we have been raised into newness of life (Romans 6:4), then we can begin to identify with the Person who has come to live within. For whatever God indwells, He makes eternal. When God's Spirit dwells within a human being, then that person takes on the character of the Indweller. No longer should we be bothered by trifles because God Himself is not bothered or worried about temporal life. He has everything firmly in control. The very power that raised Christ from the dead is now working in all areas of our respective lives for His good pleasure (Romans 8:11). The Holy Spirit's desire is that we would know that He is truly inhabiting our spirit to make us refined royalty of the Most High. To this end, we all need more revelation and understanding that the Eternal God lives within those who have trusted in Him. Furthermore, that the eyes of our hearts would understand that He has become so much a part of our spirit that it is impossible to separate the two (Romans 8:35). Take for example a tea bag and a cube of sugar and place them in cup. While they are both in the cup, they still have their own characteristics and properties. However, if one adds hot water, what happens? The tea and the sugar release their properties to the water. They dissolve and are intermingled to the point where one cannot distinguish between the two. They have become "as one" and it is now impossible to separate them. This is how God wants us to view His relationship as He indwells us. No longer do we just possess life, but our life has now become eternal by the very presence of the Most High God. Through the transformative power of water, both in our example and through the water of His Spirit, He has allowed us to be identified with His eternal life force both in this present age and the one to come.

Throughout His ministry, Christ continued to speak about the basic elements of life and how they paralleled the eternal. No where is this more clearly stated as when Christ spoke with Nicodemus regarding the new birth. This teacher of Israel was shocked to hear Jesus proclaim that unless a man was born of water and the Spirit that he would not experience life eternal (John 3:5). He could not understand that with every temporal explanation of human life there must be an eternal. Jesus then went on to speak specifically of the breath of life that the Spirit gives, the very pneuma (John 3:8) as stated in the Greek (where we derive our word pneumonia). A few short years later, Jesus would give up his right to these "elements" -- his very breath, the life-giving force of water as it created the blood that coursed through His veins, and finally His mortal body. Through His sacrifice, He chose to embrace the eternal in order that we all might be identified with everlasting life. The grave could not hold Jesus on that glorious Resurrection Day because He no longer was tied to earth by merely "life", but He was now overcome in His mortal flesh by eternality. When Jesus burst forth from the tomb, He no longer possessed the weak flesh of mankind but a body transformed and made perfect and eternal by His Heavenly Father.

An eternal life is a resurrected life. There is no other possibility for man. Even as Christ was raised from the dead, so we must also be identified with Christ in order to partake of life everlasting. We cannot breathe the "air of heaven" (which is nothing less than the presence of the Spirit of God [(Isaiah 59:21]), or partake of the living waters that proceed from His throne (Revelation 22:1), or partake of the marriage supper of the lamb (Revelation 19:9) unless we have first acknowledged that our earthly sustenance MUST transcend to the eternal. Unless we confess that the air we breathe is merely a shadow of the Breath of Life than we will die spiritually for lack of breath. If we don't see that the life giving power of water is merely a symbol for His Living Water, we will die of spiritual hydration. And lastly, if we don't understand that He is the Bread of Life, then we will truly starve to death spiritually. However, if we will but understand that He is the Giver of ALL sustenance, both temporal and eternal, then we too will live and reign through a resurrected life ... and eternal life ... never to languish but to be satisfied by His very life-giving presence!

Holy Father, thank you for life and the constant reminders that you are the Originator and Sustainer of life eternal. Help us to immerse ourselves and so identify with your holy indwelling that we become one, even as You and Your Son are one. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave he arose;
With a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!


Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eternity - January 12, 2014

Ecclesiastes 3:11 - He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

How does one grasp eternity? Even in all his wisdom, Solomon understood that time and eternity were as different as darkness and light. He knew enough to state the obvious yet not suppose that he possessed any great knowledge regarding the separation or their respective realities. However, he did know from experience that time was the keeper of "everything beautiful" that man enjoys upon this earth. In juxtaposition, the wise king knew that God had also put within the heart of humankind eternity -- a sense that they we are eternal beings yet encapsulated in time-bound bodies. As eternal beings, we groan within looking forward to the redemption of our bodies as they are transfigured into an eternal state (Romans 8:23). Mankind yearns and desires that place of immortality, for its the very center of our existence. Just as we all come from God, we all have a God-given desire to return to Him. Even as a rock when dropped will fall towards its center (i.e., gravitational pull to the center of the earth), so we too long to be once again "centered" within our Creator, the Eternal Father.

Approximately 200 years after the reign of Solomon, Isaiah the son of Amoz describes this place where the Lord God dwelt in all of His majesty. We are told in the sixth chapter of Isaiah that the prophet saw the Lord "high and lifted up" while the heavenly scene of seraphim and the heavenly host played out all around him. The seer saw himself, a time-bound being in the midst of the Eternal Creator that has no beginning or ending of days. Isaiah cried out in this place of eternal majesty, saying Woe is me, I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips ... (Isaiah 6:5). The prophet was changed from that day forward. He was no longer merely an earthly seer but he had taken on the "eyes of the Lord" and saw with broken contrition the plight of the nation of Israel. For the rest of his earthly life, Isaiah found himself standing and prophesying to a perishing nation, yet at the same time seated with the Majesty on High in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Through the prophetic voice, Isaiah declares this eternal position of God Almighty with mankind. In Isaiah 57:15 (NKJV) he states: For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “ I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." The prophet knew that to dwell in the presence of the Most High meant one must live in a humble, eternal state of being. Time no longer mattered because God is the controller of the outcome of all things. The gift of humility (upon seeing the Lord as Isaiah saw) allows the beholder to die to self and to all the preconceptions of what we may think our lives should look like and to ultimately embrace a timeless, eternal life of trust in Him. No more will we wonder what our so-called ministry or "life purpose" might entail, for we will know that we must only live with Him in this place of eternity which He desires to reveal to us all.

St. Augustine is attributed with the quotation: Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord ... . So true that rest is equated with dwelling in the very presence of God. For in His presence, we are no longer bound by the cares of this world or our own pursuits in the "Name of God". We have simply and reverently given ourselves to rest in that place of eternal abiding. While we share a place of solitude as we are "hid with Christ in God" in that eternal place (Colossians 3:3), we can also be about the Father's business as those making the most of our time, because the day's are truly evil (Ephesians 5:16). Whoever coined the phrase "That fellow is so heavenly minded he is of no earthly good" must have been working for the devil. Oh, for more Isaiahs that would have their minds and their hearts taken up with God in order to do the work at hand on a sin-soaked earth! That we would see hearts longing to be taken captive once again by the Lord Jesus Christ into that eternal realm, that they might be His agents to release captives of this present life that are like ticking time bombs ready to explode into hell. Beloved, we must experience the eternality of God before we can allow the Holy Spirit within to convince the unredeemed that their time is running out. For as truly as any reality that we will ever know, eternity awaits us all at one time or another. We can either deny its existence (Psalm 14:1), or accept its inevitability. Regardless, eternity will either be something we embrace and love through God and His eternal gift of redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, or it will be something that will imprison us with horror upon our passing through the veil.

There will be a day that we will all pass from this life to the next -- that day when we step into our eternal homes, respectively. However, the transition to a heavenly abode can be seamless if we will but cry out to our God for wisdom and understanding while in these "earthly tents" (II Corinthians 5:1). If we will seek the Lord, to understand Him as Solomon or to see Him in all His splendor as Isaiah, then we too will glimpse eternity this side of Glory. Our sufficiency in all these things is God (II Corinthians 9:8). He is the One who will answer according to our cry and our desire. While He has truly given us all things to enjoy while in our "time capsule" bodies, He has also given us hearts to understand that we are eternal beings. We will never be truly fulfilled until we rest in that place of eternity with Him. It is our choice, by the grace of God that He gives to those who ask, whether we will rest in His eternity now or merely in the "sweet by and by". May we all find that place of eternal rest both in this life and the one to come. Maranatha (Come Lord Jesus)!

Heavenly Father, bring us to that place of eternity even now in our time-bound existence! Help us to live in that place of eternal rest, provoking others to desire that place of divine comfort. Cause us to embrace the eternity within us all, that we might lead others to life everlasting. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Impossibility of Doubt - January 5, 2014

Mark 10:27 - Looking at them, Jesus said, " With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."

Jesus drew a proverbial line in the sand when speaking to His disciples regarding what man could do compared with that of God. Impossibility, as it relates to faith, lies only in the realm of what the Lord is able to achieve and what people will fail to accomplish. The word "impossible" is mentioned only one time in the Old Testament and that was in reference to man making themselves like gods when constructing the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:6-7). The Lord said that nothing would be impossible to mankind with their one tongue and combined knowledge. The mutual faith of humankind with a common goal was a direct confrontation to God. Humanistic thought of our present age states that we can return to that day before God confused the languages of the earth and achieve the seemingly impossible once again. However, as we know there is only one Creator while the devil only counterfeits God's creation. We were never meant to rely upon ourselves but to believe that by relying upon the Almighty, that all things were possible through faith.

While man can only achieve the possible, God will only move on man's behalf through seeming impossibility. While humankind can be bailed out through man's intervention, God will not lift a finger. And, so it should be. As God is the creator of all things, so He desires to display His omnipotence through His creative power. How can God demonstrate Himself through a situation that is rife with a possible human remedy? For example, God created medicine and doctors to assist with the healing arts. So, why would He heal someone if a person could just as easily visit a physician for their ailments? However, the impossibility of the situation might occur when the doctors have done all they can. Then, God can and often does step in if there is faith to invoke the seeming impossible. When man has exhausted all avenues of healing, then doubt of divine healing must either be broken or embraced. This is the point where God has us choose whether we will spend our faith on what mankind can muster, or instead look to the Divine Healer to create an impossible healing. A wonderful example of the impossibility of doubt is the paralytic that is healed as his bearers lowered him through the roof where Jesus was teaching. In Mark 2:1-12 we are told how four men carried the paralyzed man to see Jesus. Finding no way to get in to see the Healer, they open up a hole in the roof and lowered the man down in front of the Savior. Mark comments in verse 5 that Jesus saw their faith (Mark 2:5). The implication is that not only did the paralytic have faith but also those carrying him to Christ for healing. They had come into collective agreement that all was lost for their friend unless God moved on his behalf. Doubt, at that point, became an impossibility and God embraced their impossibility by providing for the man's divine healing.

As with the paralytic, the impossibility of doubt occurs when God moves beyond any possible explanation, creating a remedy that is conjoined in faith inexplicably between the Creator and the creature. There is such a oneness of trust, understanding, and Godly sympathy that erases any notion of doubt. At this juncture, the impossible has become humanly possible by the imbuing power of the Most High. Jesus stated to His disciples in Mark 11:23 an illustration of this dynamic of the faith of God. For a man to believe in his heart that a mountain could be cast into the sea by his spoken word, and it would happen, is to erase any doubt and make it an impossibility in the eyes of God (hint: impossible situations please our God!) Man cannot eradicate doubt anymore than he can create faith. It is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit as He broods over a man's life. It is the target of the Lord to annihilate doubt by revealing the gift of faith within every believer. In a similar teaching, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). The Lord goes on to explain that faith is not quantitative but qualitative! He states that if they possessed only faith the size of a mustard seed they would similarly cast a mulberry tree into the sea. A man's doubts may seem overshadowing and paralyzing compared to what the Lord requires the size of faith for a man to possess. However, once faith is seized upon, it consumes doubt and makes it an impossibility to dwell in the presence of God-ordained belief.

While many might speak about the possibilities of faith, many forget to mention the impossibilities of doubt once a man truly believes and rests all outcomes on the Lord's shoulders. Doubt becomes ludicrous and beyond comprehension to those who have relied upon the Almighty for the impossible. Always remember, beloved, that God dwells in the impossible from a rational, carnal mind's perspective. Eternity is an impossibility to the unregenerate, just as the idea that there is no eternal life is an impossibility to a believer. We function and grow in God when we dwell with Him in that place of impossibility. In turn, when we abide with Him in that place of wonderful creative power, then we will never doubt His ability. Doubt becomes the ultimate impossibility once we learn to abide in that most holy place. May we all learn the secret of the indwelling God that seeks to perform the impossible continually in our day to day lives. Thank God for the Creator who lives within to do the impossible, and to remove all doubts therein!

Heavenly Father, may we understand by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation how You desire to live "impossibly" through us and to affect the miraculous in our lives continually. May Your faith that You give us for the impossible chase away any doubts of any other conclusion, helping us to never doubt again. Thank you for Your loving faith. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick