LOVE SMACKED

Rom.5:5 – Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by love? I can’t ever forget (or stop talking about) the first time for me. Those who know me know what’s coming next. I was watching the movie “JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR” back in August of 1973 when I was stopped dead by love. I had never seen Christ like this before. Somehow while watching that controversial film the Holy Spirit began to pour great big buckets of love on me. The results were dramatic. Repentance was the result and an incredible desire to read about Jesus and follow Him had captured my heart. Jonathan Edwards describes this love, check this out.

“Love is in God as light is in the sun, which does not shine by a reflected light as the moon and planets do; but by his own light, and as the fountain of light. And love flows out from him towards all the inhabitants of heaven. It flows out in the first place and infinitely towards his only begotten Son, being poured forth without measure, as to an object which is infinite, and so fully adequate to God’s love in its fountain. Infinite love is infinitely exercised towards him. The fountain does not only send forth large streams towards this object as it does to every other, but the very fountain itself wholly and altogether goes out towards him…..The infinite essential love of God is, as it were, an infinite and eternal mutual holy energy between the Father and the Son, a pure, holy act whereby the Deity becomes nothing but an infinite and unchangeable act of love, which proceed from both the Father and the Son.”

I guess in retrospect I got caught up in God’s love storm that night. The Father’s infinite love for His Son, Jesus, fell on me. How is that possible? I believed in His sacrificial death that night, I saw His death as His supreme act of love toward me. As a result, my sins were forgiven and I was clothed with His righteousness. In other words all the Father could see when He looked at me was His Son Jesus. So I got love smacked by the Father’s infinite love for His Son. The most amazing thing, that was forty six years ago this month and I am still smitten.

THE FATHER LOVES THE SON

Matt.17:9 – And God’s voice suddenly spoke from the cloud, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, the constant focus of my delight. Listen to him!”

Jn.5:20 – For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing;

When the Lord spoke from heaven at the Transfiguration it was very similar to what He had said at the baptism of Jesus. When John the Baptist brought Jesus up out of the water the Father seemed to be overwhelmed with love for His Son; His response was, “This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased”. At this announcement, the Heavenly Dove, the Holy Spirit, came upon Jesus. Jesus began to experience the power of God’s presence upon His life and ministry. Actually the Father’s statement gives us a glimpse into what this is all about. ‘This is my Beloved’, the Father loves the son with His infinite, unfathomable love. This love is actually a person, the precious Holy Spirit. What the disciples were witnessing on that Holy Mount was unimaginable. They were witnessing the fellowship of love between the Father and Son, the fruit of that love is a person in His own right, the wonderful Holy Spirit. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this fellowship.

“It was under this representation that the Holy [Spirit] descended on Christ at his baptism, signifying the infinite love of the Father to the Son, and that thereby is signified that infinite love that is between the Father and the Son; which is further illustrated by the voice which came with the dove, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. When Christ says to his Father that he would declare his name to his disciples, “that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them,” I can understand nothing else by [it] but that the Holy Spirit might be in them and dwell in them, which is the love of the Father to the Son.”

John remembered this moment all His life. He was a witness of the supernatural fellowship of the trinity at the Transfiguration. At the end of his life he was still proclaiming our calling to enjoy this fellowship ourselves. As a result, this is how John begins his epistle at the end of his life, 1Jn.1:3 – “So we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard about this Life-Giver so that we may share and enjoy this life together. For truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus, the Anointed One.”

POETRY OF GOD’S WILL

Heb.10:36 – You need the strength of endurance to reveal the poetry of God’s will and then you receive the promise in full.

This verse is a promise with a condition. I love God’s conditions. Why would I say that? Because the Lord will fulfill the conditions He puts on us Himself. Like Augustine declared, “Command what you will, give what you command”. Today’s verse has a great promise for our endurance, the poetry of God’s will is the promise. God’s plan for our lives is like a poem or a beautiful song that is being composed and performed simultaneously. How do I go about doing my part, the endurance part? This is where Paul’s promise in Hebrew 6:19 comes into play.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,”

Hope is the sure key to perseverance. If I don’t lose hope I won’t give up. In this verse we see that Jesus Himself is my hope, He is my anchor of hope. He has entered into heaven itself on my behalf so that I can enter in also. As a result my hope is strengthened, and God’s poem, or song of my life is fulfilled. The Passion Translation notes describe the phrase in today’s verse that displays God’s plan like a poem in my life. Here is how the TPT describes it.

“Or “to do God’s will.” The Greek word for “do” is taken from the Greek word poeima (poem or poetry).”

So maybe the song of God’s promise seems out of reach for you today. The message of the book of Hebrews is that I need endurance that I can obtain that promise. How do I get endurance again? Oh yeah, Christ has to do it in me. How does that work? I grab hold of Christ, the anchor of my hope, who has entered behind the veil into the presence of God for me.

Did you catch that? I have access into the very presence of the Lord. I can come boldly before God’s throne to find grace in my time of need. Better than that, I now have the new and living way. In other words, I don’t come into the presence just for special needs, I can actually go in and camp out there. This is my new way of life. I find strength in His presence to press on. Let the poem begin !!!

KINGDOM COME

Mk.9:2 – After six days, Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, Jacob and John, and hiked up a high mountain to be alone. And Jesus’ appearance was dramatically altered, for he was transfigured before their very eyes!

Jesus taught His disciples to focus on the kingdom of God for their prayers. I guess to focus on the kingdom we must understand what it is. Paul said the kingdom of God was, not physical but “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”. The kingdom both Jesus and Paul were speaking of is a spiritual kingdom. It is not apparent to our natural senses, our spiritual perception has to be awakened to glimpse this hidden kingdom. The Transfiguration pointed the disciples in that direction. Here are some comments from the notes in the Passion Translation pointing us toward that secret kingdom.

“This manifestation of the power of God’s kingdom realm could be seen in three dimensions. (1) Beginning with v. 2, the kingdom power of God was seen in Jesus’ transfiguration and the appearing of Moses and Elijah on the mountain. (2) Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into glory inaugurated a new era of God’s kingdom power. (3) The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which brought to birth the church of Jesus Christ, and extended God’s kingdom realm to all the earth.”

These notes point out three aspects of the kingdom shown by the Transfiguration. The kingdom of God consists not only in wisdom but in power. The power of God is evident as we see the glory of Christ in this passage. The veil blocking His glory is lifted momentarily that the power of God might be displayed. This passage also points to the resurrection and the glorification of Christ. The glorification of Jesus as a man marks the beginning of this new kingdom age. The final observation is that all of this made Pentecost possible. Because of the cross, resurrection, and glorification of Christ the Holy Spirit is now poured out on all mankind. This is the kingdom that Jesus came to establish and we are enjoying today. We now taste the edge of it as we are filled with the power of His presence. The day is coming when Christ will return and the whole earth will be filled with the Spirit of God. All I can say is; Lord let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

TRANSFORMED BY GLORY

Matt.17:2 – And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

2 Cor.3:18 – We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Rom.12:2 – Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.

There are all sorts of spiritual implications that are displayed by the amazing transformation of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. One that stands out to me is the image of Christians being transformed by the work of God in this life. Jesus is transfigured, the word metamorphoo is used, by the power of the Spirit on and in His life. Take a look at this word, metamorphoo, from the New Testament Word Book.

“Metamorphoo – Used of the Lord’s transfiguration on the mount (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2) involving the miracle of transformation from an earthly form into a supernatural form which was externally denoted by the radiance of His garments and countenance. This suggests what the bodies of the righteous may be like as a result of the resurrection of our bodies (1 Cor. 15:51f.). In Rom. 12:2 and 2 Cor. 3:18, the idea of transformation refers to an invisible process in Christians which takes place or begins to take place during their life in this age.”

The anointing of the Holy Spirit has a distinct impact on our lives. According to 2 Cor.3:18 we are changed from one degree or level of glory to the next. In other words, salvation is a work that will continue in us throughout our entire lives. We are metamorphosized or changed continually by the power of the Spirit working in and upon our lives. In Roman 12, Paul speaks about the challenge of being impacted by the world. Paul’s answer? Be transformed by the work of the Spirit.

UNDER HIS SHADOW

Mk.9:1 – Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, there are some standing here now who won’t experience death until they see God’s kingdom realm manifest with power!”

Matt.17:5 – But while Peter was still speaking, a radiant cloud composed of light spread over them, enveloping them all. And God’s voice suddenly spoke from the cloud, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, the constant focus of my delight. Listen to him!

I love the description of the cloud in the Passion Translation. It describes the cloud as radiant. This is why the cloud of glory is often described as shekinah, the shining cloud of glory. This cloud led the children of Israel for forty years through the desert. It was also the cloud that filled the temple at Solomon’s dedication service. In today’s passage we see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit as a cloud working together with the Father who said “this is my beloved Son, listen to Him”. What an amazing picture of the trinity working together, heading toward their ultimate triumph at Calvary. The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit always work together in perfect harmony. The Passion Translation notes point out the powerful description of the cloud in the original text. Check this out.

“The Greek word translated “overshadow” is episkiazo, which is used exclusively for the power of the Almighty “overshadowing,” such as Mary, who conceived a child supernaturally by God…. This was not a natural shadow created by the light of the sun, but the supernatural overshadowing of God’s power. Jesus will appear again in these clouds of glory.”

This word, episkiazo, is used by Luke when he describes Mary as being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit when she conceived Christ in her womb. The cloud of glory came upon her and she became pregnant with God’s only begotten Son. This phrase is also used in an amazing way in the book of Acts. There was a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit described in Acts 5 in the streets of Jerusalem. Sick people were lining the streets and when Peter’s shadow passed over them they were healed. Actually, Luke used that word, espiskiazo to describe Peter’s shadow. It was actually the shining cloud of glory, the anointing, that was on Peter healing the sick.

At the risk of sounding weird, I often ‘see’ a haze in our services at Victory. I don’t think the cloud is physically visible but it is there none the less. His presence is often manifested in corporate worship services but not everyone is aware of His presence. Draw near today, you may find yourself under His shadow.

TRANSFIGURED

Lk.9:34,35 – While Peter was still speaking, a radiant cloud of glory formed above them and overshadowed them. As the glory cloud enveloped them, they were struck with fear. Then the voice of God thundered from within the cloud, “This is my Son, my Beloved One. Listen carefully to all he has to say.”

The Transfiguration was a foretaste of the coming kingdom. Think about it, the Son of God has existed and enjoyed intimacy with the Father from eternity. The Son of God became the Son of Man when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin, Mary. He was named Jesus and raised as the son of Joseph the carpenter. He began His ministry at thirty and was preparing for His death. After His death and resurrection Christ would take His place at the Father’s right hand, as a glorified man. The transfiguration is a foretaste of the coming kingdom. The disciples glimpsed the coming glory of Jesus on the mountain that day. Soon, Jesus would enter that glory. Soon we would enter that glorious state as well. Here are some thoughts from Martin Luther on today’s passage.

“Three persons and one God—they appeared as distinguishable. The figures are different from one another: there is the Father who speaks, the Son about whom the Father speaks and the Holy Spirit . . . in the shining cloud. This we confess in the Apostle’s Creed. Since the gospel has been revealed, we should believe this…..Among us simple people we do not speculate but are taught. True faith is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the one God. The Son became human, and he died and gave us the Holy Spirit who gives us the sacrament, consolation, strengthens us and leads us into eternal life. Otherwise no one’s faith—not any single person’s`—has endured for long.”

Peter, James, and John saw the edge of Who Jesus is and how He would appear in eternity. Years later I’m sure John remembered this day when he was caught up into heaven by the Spirit. His first vision was seeing Jesus in that place of glory. He saw Him as a lion and as a sacrificed lamb. He saw Him in His glory on the throne and saw all creation bowing in worship before the Lord. This is what we are praying for when we pray ‘Let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’. Lord, let Your kingdom come, let the whole earth be filled with Your glory.

MY BELOVED

Matt.17:5 – While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

Christ is the very image of the Father. He is absolutely perfect and is the display of the Father in every way. The Father loves the Son, the Father has always loved the Son, the transfiguration just gives us a glimpse into this heavenly intimacy. The disciples had not tasted this life at this point in the gospel narrative. This was just a glimpse into the fellowship they would soon enjoy. They were privileged to observe this intimacy. After Pentecost they too would begin to taste it. Paul said that we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ. The transfiguration gives us a taste of what we now have. Here is a quote from Matthew Henry on this passage.

“The great gospel mystery revealed; This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This was the very same that was spoken from heaven at his baptism; and it was the best news that ever came from heaven to earth since man sinned. It is to the same purport with that great doctrine, That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. Moses and Elias were great men, and favorites of Heaven, yet they were but servants, and servants that God was not always well pleased in; for Moses spoke unadvisedly, and Elias was a man subject to passions; but Christ is a Son, and in him God was always well pleased. Moses and Elias were sometimes instruments of reconciliation between God and Israel; Moses was a great intercessor, and Elias a great reformer; but in Christ God is reconciling the world; his intercession is more prevalent than that of Moses, and his reformation more effectual than that of Elias.”

Today, the Son of God has entered into this glory that was glimpsed that day on the Mount of Transfiguration. He reigns on the throne with His Father, ruling the universe as the Son of God. The good news is that He sits in heaven representing me and interceding for me before the Father. Moses and Elijah were voices pointing us to Him. Today, God is speaking to us through His very own Son. He is calling us into this mystery of heavenly fellowship so that we too can be transformed and radiate His glory.

I HAVE TO SING

Ps.92:3,4 – Melodies of praise will fill the air as every musical instrument,

joined with every heart, overflows with worship.

No wonder I’m so glad; I can’t keep it in!

Lord, I’m shouting with glee over all you’ve done,

for all you’ve done for me!

Music and singing are our response to the Lord. To those who live with eyes wide open singing is not optional. When we see His glory in the sunrise, we hear His joy in the songbirds, we feel His power in the crashing thunder, our response is to glorify Him with a song. When we see the rays of revelation in the scripture; redemption, adoption, election, sovereignty, our hearts break out in His songs of joy and celebration. When we think of our testimony; how He knew us from our mother’s womb, He kept us safe in our years of rebellion, He provided for us from our first breath, and He revealed Himself to us on the day of our new birth, we can’t hold in the sounds of joy that erupt from deep inside of us. Here is how Spurgeon describes this phenomenon.

“It was natural for the psalmist to sing, because he was glad, and to sing unto the Lord, because his gladness was caused by a contemplation of the divine work. If we consider either creation or providence, we shall find overflowing reasons for joy; but when we come to review the work of redemption, gladness knows no bounds, but feels that she must praise the Lord with all her might. There are times when in the contemplation of redeeming love we feel that if we did not sing we must die; silence would be as horrible to us as if we were gagged by inquisitors, or stifled by murderers. I will triumph in the works of thy hands. I cannot help it, I must and I will rejoice in the Lord, even as one who has won the victory and has divided great spoil….When God reveals his work to a man, and performs a work in his soul, he makes his heart glad most effectually, and then the natural consequence is continual praise.”

So take a look around as you begin the new day. Listen for His songs outside as creation displays His glory, search for His grace as you open up the scriptures, bask in His love as you sing your songs of joy to the Lord. Yep, I think its going to be a great new day.

BLIND BEGGARS

Mk.10:47 – When he heard that Jesus from Nazareth was passing by, he began to shout “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me now in my affliction. Heal me!”

I love Mark’s account of the healing of Blind Bartimaeus. You can feel the pain and the suffering in this blind beggar’s desperate pleas. Bartimaeus had obviously heard the stories of the miracles of Jesus; after three years and hundreds (possibly thousands) of healings everyone had heard about the miracles and most had drawn their conclusions. When you are hurting like this blind man you don’t have time for religious discussions, you just want to get well. That’s why Bartimaeus was shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on me”. What a bold public declaration, Son of David, the Messianic title. People were thrown out of their synagogues for less than that, but Bartimaeus had nothing to lose. Mark described the blind man’s shouting with a word used for animals screeching. The blind man was not going to be ignored, he was demanding some kind of response, he knew this was his one time shot at life.

The crowds tried to shush him but Jesus called for him, “Bring that blind man to Me”.

Bartimaeus threw away his mendicant coat and made his way to Jesus. He wouldn’t be needing that coat anymore, his life was about to begin. Why did Mark mention that coat anyway? Why was that so important? That coat was Bartimaeus’s way of supporting himself. He was a beggar, this coat was his ticket for provision, issued to guarantee his right to beg. He wouldn’t be needing help from any man anymore he was about to get a real life.

“What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus seemed to be asking the obvious. “I want to see”, Bartimaeus boldly declared. “Your faith has made you whole. Go in peace”. Instantly the former blind man saw the face of Jesus, a smile bright enough to light the whole world. “Go in peace?” You’ve got to be kidding. Bartimaeus wasn’t going anywhere. He began to follow Jesus down the road.

I love the end of this story the best. Too many times answered prayers are squandered on people who just return to their old way of life after they get their miracle. Not Bartimaeus, He was going to follow Jesus. He had gotten more than physical eyesight that day, He had his spiritual eyes opened. When he saw Jesus, he realized this was what he was born for; to know Jesus and live for him the rest of his life.