“I was in Prison and you Preached and I could care less…”

Reflecting back on my #CCC experience from this past Tuesday night, I was providentially pulled to a new pod where the group was larger and a few prisoners were less than attentive as they did not know me nor the Gospel I preach. Others seemed genuinely struck by the word and appreciative to know that Option B was opened to them through the preaching of the Gospel and that God’s power was abundant that they might flee the wrath to come. 

I saw again that the very means appointed to save some, harden others in their indifferent iniquity that they might fill up the full measure of the wrath appointed them. All we can seek to do is glorify the Saving Christ in the preaching of a powerful Gospel to a lost and dying world.

Successful preaching does not have to end in the salvation of the hearers. (Reference Jeremiah and Noah, et. al.) Successful preaching simply leaves man without excuse for rejection of the grace that appears in setting forth the Word become flesh as He who is full of grace and truth.

“Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart.”

The Suffering Lamb Receives His Reward

“Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.”

Psalm 28:9

The provision of God in Christ meets the totality of our needs. “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.” (Moravian Missionary)
He was called JESUS and His mission was not to provide for a potential salvation but to accomplish a redemption by ransom of His people. “It is finished.”
Hebrews 1:3 states that “when He had made purification for sins He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Redemption was accomplished and its impending application is only a matter of your encounter with grace which rushes toward you and upon you as it has been “granted you in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” How does that happen? It is a cataclysmic event ordered of God called the New Birth when God invades your life and overthrows your rebellious heart and makes you willing to repent and believe (conversion) in the Day of His Power. God knew you and predestined you and called you and justified you and glorified you… before the world was. (Romans 8) Christ bore the names of His people as He bore their particular sins on Calvary’s Tree. (He even died for their UNBELIEF.) Thank God for sovereign grace or hell would have held me for sure. In reality none would escaped the chains of sin and death, “but God, being rich in mercy…” (Ephesians 2)

Back to Psalm 28…

He saves us in particular as His inheritance for we are the reward of His suffering. “All that the Father gives shall come…” 
He shepherds us by provision and protection in intimate manner as we are twice-born to be carried in His bosom even as our names were inscribed in the books and upon His heart from all eternity.

Consider John 10:1-30 in the account of the Good Shepherd 

“But it is by His doing that we are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption…”

1 Corinthians 1:30-31

My Personal Tent of Meeting

“And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.”

Psalm 27:6
Notice this exultation in the Lord is not by deliverance FROM enemies but by worship of God in the MIDST of enemies ALL around. How so? Prominently so… lifted up above… It’s all about a mindset set above, where Christ is. It’s about an act of worship wherever we are, indifferent to circumstance. All things we encounter today are calculated by a sovereign God to stimulate a faith-walk of worship, not sinful frustration, reactiveness nor retaliation. (How we doing on that? Hmmm?) Either our Heavenly Father works all things after the counsel of His will or He doesn’t. I choose to believe a God who rules in the midst of the praises of His people. I bow low in His presence. And He lifts me up in adversity. He moves me to worship the beauty of His holiness. He completes my lack by His abundant sufficiency. 
Perceived hinderances and adversaries are in reality to be viewed and experienced as gigantic springboards to propel one heavenward as we dive into the ocean of His joy-filled presence. (“To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry…”)
It’s really a story of keeping your “tent of meeting handy”…

The thing about tents is their portability. They pack and store well, so when I arrive on location today, (work or school or home with kids, etc…), the first objective is to unpack and secure the tent, (HIS TENT), to enter in and begin to sing praises and offer sacrifices with shouts of joy to God as the enemies of the Lord congregate about. Isn’t that neat? Wherever… Whenever… In all places we hang out today we are to worship the King of glory in the midst of the conflict as we shout with joy, joy, joy… down in my heart this day! He has designed you and He orders your particular circumstances to aid you to construct an altar of worship as you go through life fulfilling your duty by the Light and Salvation of His countenance. I think of Abraham as he trudged throughout the land, not having a clue but only a promise, yet he seemed quick to construct multiple altars of worship as he sojourned. Don’t all people of faith? So it doesn’t really matter how many Philistines or Canaanites surround you or me today: Worship God! He seeks you to be a worshiper in spirit and truth. All is well when we worship God.

I encourage you to hang out with the Shepherd-King David today, especially in Psalm 27. Who knows but that light and salvation may sweep you away into another place. To a holy place. To a place of joy and praise. That is what I seek upon the eve of the eve of the #NewYear #2016.

Have We Pursued Repentance As a Thief?

“And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

The Thief of Luke 23

The thief on the cross personifies Biblical repentance for us. We must become as he, and stumble upon the same awareness as he, to enter the narrow door that leads to life. He presents himself as he is and offers to Christ only what he owns… his sin and guilt, without pretense or excuse. We tend to be trust our own advocacy to explain our narrative to God. Repentance includes a radical departure from all explanations, excuses, and all blame we have utilized in the past to resolve guilt by blame of others to protect and excuse Self. Nothing fits through that narrow door of conversion that symbolically represents the new birth. Nothing. Not even your sinful heart. God must give you a new one. This is why we say it is incorrect to say you must give your heart to Jesus; He does not need that nasty thing. In reality we all need Jesus to grant us a new heart as He takes out the old heart of stone. Our sin and our guilt are squeezed off as we press through the gate into the narrow way to be adorned in His robe of righteousness alone. 

The Thief’s Awakening Cry:

He is aware of personal guilt. 

He senses justice must be served. 

He owns his deeds as evil. 

He sees in Christ perfection. 

He senses the suffering Christ is sufficient. 

He cries to Christ for protection. 

“Jesus, remember me.”

He believes as Abraham that God raises the dead. 

One day we will meet this very man. He is in the presence of God today. He will be identified as the humble man who is quick to say it is all of grace. Won’t we all?
“Nothing in my hands I bring;

Simply to Thy cross I cling.”

(Toplady in ‘Rock of Ages’)

Lord, I could never deserve Your merit nor gain Your forgiveness by my performance, even on my best day which I must have misplaced. Unravel my pretense and confusion. Clear my vision and open the eyes of my heart to see my only hope in the very dying form of the Lamb of God upon Calvary’s Tree. Give me faith as this repentant thief. Paradise is His presence. Gripe me with this eternal reality. Never let me lose sight of the Light. Grant me fullness of joy.

“I need Thee. Oh I need Thee. Every hour I need Thee. Oh bless me now my Savior, I come to Thee.”

The Advent Renewed by My Daily Walks in the Psalms

With good reason I start my day with a reading and reflection upon the Psalms:God speaks to my need and renews my vision of glory therein. A great Light appears where there was darkness. That Light is sufficient and relevant today. Whether cloud or pillar, He leads. Stand and see His salvation.
Psalms 113:3-7 (NASB)

“From the rising of the sun to its setting 

The name of the LORD is to be praised.

The LORD is high above all nations; 

His glory is above the heavens.

Who is like the LORD our God, 

Who is enthroned on high,

Who humbles Himself to behold 

The things that are in heaven and in the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust 

And lifts the needy from the ash heap…”

 
#Perspective

Isn’t all of life about perspective and worldview? Who do you believe? What do you believe? How do you act upon what you believe? Show me faith by works. Let’s move beyond word-faith. “Talkative.” What are you given to pursue? Do you chase trinkets or true treasure? Do you know affliction or shared blessings? God has not changed. He is “patient toward you not willing that any should perish but that all might come to repentance.” It is His kindness manifested that acts as the tentacles of love that draw you irresistibly toward the Manger to consider the Babe, and then to Behold the Man lifted high to die as One cursed of God on the Tree, whose cry of finality in death sprung the captives unfettered and Free into the Most Holy Place. We still “call His name Jesus, who saves His people from their sins.” From the guilt. From the power. From the pollution. And finally in glory, from the presence of sin. Jesus. There’s something about that name…

“No more let sins or sorrows grow.

Nor thorns infest the ground.

He comes to make His blessing known,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found.”

 

He speaks still. He commands as King, “Come unto Me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden. Rest. I give you rest and an easy yoke… Learn. Follow. Live. Love. Dance with joy!” His sheep still hear the Voice of the Shepherd. The call shall forever ring throughout the ages, world without end until that final Day, “Adam. Where are you?” Then we shall know. “We will see Him as He is and be like Him.” Glory. Throughout all the ages to come, we shall bask in His glory and dance in His Light.
The Psalms put all these things into perspective for me and daily drives my heart to constraint of love and worship of the King as the shepherds and then as the Magi of old. “The things of the world glow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
“Mary treasured all these things in her heart.” The shepherds returned to their labors changed, full of joy and worship. What do I return too? Who has my heart? Do I worship a “what” or a “Who” or my “Self”? Or do I worship Christ the newborn King? Joy to the World! The Lord is come!
#GloryToTheNewBornKing who is birthed again through the Psalms with fresh urgency and relevancy to me in my walk through life. Today. And all days. “World without end. Amen. Amen!“
#ILoveChristmas
#YadaYada
I’m afflicted. But I’m loved of God. What else matters? Nothing. Nothing at all.