LION, CALF, MAN, AND EAGLE

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Rev. 4:6,7 ¶ And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.

This verse is part of an amazing glimpse into the scene in heaven where the Lord is being worshipped by the angels and those redeemed from sin from every tribe on the earth. John gives us a glimpse into the function of the mysterious seraphim that are closely connected to the throne of God. In Isaiah’s vision, as well as the one in Revelations, these “burning ones” are caught up in worship. They apparently lead the worship in heaven. Once there was five of these creatures before one of them fell. You know the one; Lucifer, the chief worship leader in heaven. These amazing angelic beings are totally caught up with the holiness of God. You can almost hear them if you stop and listen, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory. Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty; the One who was and is and is to come”.

The early church fathers used to connect these four creatures to the four gospels. I like Augustine’s version. He said that Matthew corresponded to the lion, Mark to the man, Luke to the calf, and John to the eagle. These comparisons are quite interesting.

Matthew was the gospel written for the Jewish people. Think about it, the lion of the tribe of Judah. The first verse in Matthew refers to Jesus as the Messiah, the son of David. Of course Jesus is that messianic king portrayed by the lion and He rules all things with His mighty word. Mark is said to correspond with the creature with the face of a man. Mark’s gospel was written for the gentiles, the people of the nations. In Mark’s gospel we see Jesus as a man, the Son of Man. We also see Him moved with compassion as He ministers to the hurting members of humankind.

Next is Luke. His gospel starts in the temple and ends in the temple. The calf, the sacrifice of blood for the cleansing of sin, is the picture of Luke’s gospel. Luke gives us a portrayal of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood. He is surely our heavenly high priest. Finally there is John pictured by the eagle. The eagle is known for soaring to the heights and for his incredible vision. This unveils the revelation of Jesus we find in John’s gospel. John takes us to the heights as we see Jesus as the Son of God from eternity clothed with human flesh. In John we find the pinnacle of the Father’s revelation, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

FRESH OUTPOURING

Acts 3:19-21 – Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
Too many Christians have “settled”, they have settled for a lukewarm spiritual life reflecting on the good old days when “God was really moving”. It is quite disturbing to me when people reminisce on the “good old days at Victory Fellowship”. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great times in the past but I don’t live in the past, I need the Lord today. We need daily bread from heaven and the Lord is happy to give it. In today’s verse Peter was prophesying about times and seasons of refreshing that would continue to come from the presence of the Lord. We need daily renewal, yesterday’s mercies will never sustain me today. Check out the words to this song from Kim Walker-Smith.

Renew us in this day

Just like You said You would

Your Word is not in vain

Our hearts reaching heavenward
Fresh outpouring

Tear the fabric open

Come, Jesus come

Breath of heaven

Nothing left unshaken

We long for more

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring
As temporary fades

Let glory invade this earth

Your power on display

Our eyes looking heavenward
Fresh outpouring

Tear the fabric open

Come, Jesus come

Breath of heaven

Nothing left unshaken

We long for more
We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring

There is fire, stirring in our bones

A shout is rising, rising up inside

Soak the earth, come and fill our hearts

Your voice is calling, calling us to life!

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring!

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring!

Make a way where, I see none!

Make a way where, I see none!

Let the waters rise in the desert

Let the waters rise in the desert!

Fresh outpouring
Fresh outpouring

Tear the fabric open

Come, Jesus come…

So maybe there is more for you than you ever thought. Yesterday was good but the Lord is here pouring out His glory today.

GALLERY OF ART

2 Cor. 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Of all the works of the Lord this has to be the very pinnacle. This is why Jesus came. This goes way beyond forgiveness and everlasting life. This is about the beautiful transformation of His sons and daughters. He takes us out of our misery, washes away all of our sin, and then begins the work of restoration and renewal. It is the work of the Spirit in our lives. How does it happen? It comes from gazing on the glory of the Lord. How can you see the unseeable? It’s really quite simple, we see the unveiling of Jesus Christ in the written word through the working of the Spirit on our souls. We are caught up in the glory of His love, we drink deeply of His Spirit, and we feast on His word. As we do this His beautiful work of artistry goes into effect. We are transformed from glory to glory. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this.

“We have a lively image of this Trinity in the sun. The Father is as the substance of the sun; the Son is as the brightness and glory of the disk of the sun, or that bright and glorious form under which it appears to our eyes; the Holy Ghost is as the heat and powerful influence which acts upon the sun itself and, being diffusive, enlightens, warms, enlivens and comforts the world. The Spirit, as it is God’s infinite love and happiness, is as the internal heat of the sun; but as it is that by which God communicates himself, is as the emitted beams of God’s glory. Moses was changed by God’s glory shining upon him, even as we are changed by God’s Spirit shed as bright beams on us. The Spirit of God is called the Spirit of glory upon two accounts: because ’tis the glory of God and is as it were his emitted beams, and as it is the believer’s glory and causes him also to shine.”
We gaze upon Christ, bask in His radiation, and then we begin to change and at the same time reflect the glory of the Lord. So this is what He is after, to put each of us on display in His gallery of art.

PROPORTIONAL

Eph. 3:20 ¶ Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

The work of God is supernatural but requires collaboration; in other words our will is a key factor in the way the Lord uses us. Today’s verse is a beautiful picture of the collision of the supernatural and the natural. The Lord is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond what we ask or think according…. According to what? According to the power that is at work in us. In others words the way we are used is in proportion to our yieldedness. He can do anything, He just needs a vessel to work with. That was the whole point of the prayer of Evan Roberts in the revival in Wales, “Bend us Lord!” What was Evan asking for, the bending of our will so that the Lord could be glorified in us. Bend us Lord, we want to see your glory in us and through us. Here are some thoughts from Wuest’s wordbook on today’s verse.

“Paul says that God is able to do super-abundantly above and beyond what we ask or think, and then some on top of that. The word “ask” is aiteō, “to ask that something be given”; it is a request of the will. “Think” is noeō, “to consider.” The power (dunamis) that is putting forth energy in us (energeō), is the operation of the Holy Spirit in His work of sanctification. God is able to do for us and answer our prayers according to the efficiency, richness, and power of the working of the Spirit in our lives. This latter is determined by the yieldedness of the believer to the Holy Spirit. Thus, the saint determines what God is able to do for him. In His inherent ability, there is no limit to what God can do in and through the saint. But the saint limits the working of God in and through him by the degree of his yieldedness to the Spirit.”
What a shocking promise from the Lord, “exceedingly abundantly above and beyond what you can ask or even think”. In other words, all things are possible, all He needs is a yielded heart. What happens then? First, you are made whole, then He begins to pour through you for His glory.

PHOTOGRAPHS OF JESUS

2 Cor. 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

All of us like to look at our old pictures. Recently my wife Parris posted some of our old wedding pictures on Facebook. Those pictures are 43 years old, we all looked a lot different 43 years ago. I noticed some of the comments people made about those pictures, many were commenting about family resemblances. They were saying we looked very much like our children. Of course, our children share our very essence, they came from us. That is what today’s scripture is about. As we gaze upon Christ we begin to reflect His glory. Ultimately Christians begin to look like Him, there just has to be a family resemblance. This is how people in this world see Jesus, they see His reflected glory in our lives. Here are some thoughts from A.B. Simpson on this truth.

“It was His to be the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person. It is ours to be the image of His glory and the express image of Him. As He represented God, so we are to represent Christ, and men will know Him by what they see of Him in us. This is the blessed work of the Holy Ghost. He is the Artist that stands behind the canvas and brings out the glorious, heavenly picture. Not only so, but He makes a living picture. We are not stereotyped and put away in a cabinet, but the picture is renewed from day to day, and each day should be brighter than the past. It is “from glory to glory,” even brighter and brighter until it shall be lost in the light of heaven. It is not even “from grace to glory.” We are to reach the stage of glory, and then go on “from glory to glory” in increasing luster forever.”
I love that, glory to glory. The Lord is painting His picture on and in me every day. The picture that He is painting is a self portrait; He is reproducing the very likeness of His Son. So just like we all enjoy looking at the family pictures of friends, take a look around today. Hopefully you and the people you associate with are looking more and more like Jesus.

HIS COMING LIKE CLOCKWORK

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Psa. 19:1,4,6 ¶ The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The universe is beyond amazing. This week we saw just a tiny glimpse of His vast orchestration in a solar eclipse. Eclipses are predictable because of the precise perfection of God’s creation. Everything marches forward in perfect synchronization, all pointing to the great day that lies ahead. The dance of creation is called a groan by the Apostle Paul, the groan of anticipation of God’s coming kingdom. What Paul called a groan David referred to as the voice that goes out through all the earth. This voice of the Lord opens the hearts of the hungry and calls them to a place of restoration and healing in God’s glorious dance. You are not forgotten, you too are a part of His precise perfection. Here are some comments from Jonathan Edwards on God’s clock.

“As in a clock, all the motions of the whole system of wheels and movements, tend to the striking of the hammer at the appointed time. All the revolutions and restless motions of the sun and other heavenly bodies, from day to day, from year to year, and from age to age, are continually tending hither; as all the many turnings of the wheels of a chariot, in a journey, tend to the appointed journey’s end. The mighty struggles and conflicts of nations, and shakings of kingdoms, and those vast successive changes that are brought to pass, in the kingdoms and empires of the world, from one age to another, are as it were travail pangs of the creation, in order to bring forth this glorious event. And the Scriptures represent the last struggles and changes that shall immediately precede this event, as being the greatest of all; as the last pangs of a woman in travail are the most violent.”
To glimpse God’s glory in creation causes me to bow in awe before His majestic sovereignty. He rules all things. He is the God of well timed comets, solar flares, and eclipses. The mysteries of the universe are His. The mysteries of my life and your life are also hidden in Christ. Just as we passed through the moon’s shadow last Monday, hide yourself in Him who has no shadow of turning.

GLORIFIED

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Herein is my Father glorified —John 15:8

Once you begin to see the glory of the Lord for yourself your view of everything changes. You begin to come to the greatest of all conclusions, everything that exists exists to display the glory of God. The galaxies and solar systems, the sub-atomic and microscopic world, the creatures in the sea, the birds of the air, and the innumerable land creatures and insects. All of these things display the wisdom, creativity, and power of God. But there is even a greater display of God’s glory than all of these wonderful things. What could it possibly be? His greatest glory is reserved for the sinners, the ungodly of this world. God’s greatest glory is seen in redemption, the forgiveness and transformation of the dregs of fallen man. Jesus’s glory was clearly seen in the forgiveness of the harlot called Mary, the restoration of the betrayer called Peter, and the salvation of the self proclaimed chief of sinners, the persecutor also known as the Apostle Paul. Here is how A. B. Simpson describes the glory of God.

“There is nothing that glorifies God so much as for a weak and helpless man or woman to be able to triumph through His strength in places where the highest human qualities will fail us and to carry on in divine power through every form of toll and suffering. A spirit naturally weak, irresolute, selfish, and sinful, transformed into sweetness, purity and power and standing victorious amid circumstances from which its natural qualities must utterly unfit it brings glory to God. A mind not naturally wise or strong, yet directed by a divine wisdom and carried along the path of a great and mighty plan, being used to accomplish stupendous results for God and man-this glorifies God. Father, let me glorify Thee this day and adorn Thy doctrine in all things I do.”
So that brings us to you. Could it be that all the bad stuff that has happened in your life is just an opportunity for glory at the end of the day? If that’s the case we have to glory in our problems and even in the afflictions in our lives. God is serious about His glory, He is serious about redemption and restoration in your life. Draw near and lean on His mercy, I think the Lord is about to show His glory in your life.

HOW. MUCH GLORY?

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Ps. 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
This verse has always demanded my attention. It is extremely convicting to me, how could anyone ascribe the glory ‘due’ to His name? Impossible!!! He rescued us from our pit of despair that we had dug for ourselves and delivered us from the very pit of hell and brought us into His glorious presence. How much glory should I credit to Him for that? He has kept me from destruction and blessed me beyond belief in my personal life, with my wife and children, and in my ministry. How much glory is due to Him for all of that? He has filled me again and again with the joy that comes from God Himself; how much glory should I ascribe to Him for that? Spurgeon also seemed to be overwhelmed by a continual need to worship. Here is some of what he said about worshipping the Lord.

“The Lord always deserves to be praised for what he is in himself, for his works of creation and providence, for his goodness towards his creatures, and especially for the transcendent act of redemption, and all the marvelous blessing flowing therefrom. It is always beneficial to praise the Lord; it cheers the day and brightens the night; it lightens toil and softens sorrow; and over earthly gladness it sheds a sanctifying radiance which makes it less liable to blind us with its glare. Have we not something to sing about at this moment? Can we not weave a song out of our present joys, or our past deliverances, or our future hopes? Earth yields her summer fruits: the hay is housed, the golden grain invites the sickle, and the sun tarrying long to shine upon a fruitful earth, shortens the interval of shade that we may lengthen the hours of devout worship.”
It’s not just what He has done that cries for our worship, it is God Himself. His greatness is higher than the heavens, His love stretches beyond the horizon, and His mercy is deeper than the depths of the ocean. Worship is still my only recourse. His greatness demands me to shout for joy. Let the nations see His greatness, let my praises touch the world around me. Let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord.

GETTING READY FOR PENTECOST

Mic. 1:4 And the mountains will melt under him,
and the valleys will split open,

like wax before the fire,

like waters poured down a steep place.
Have you ever felt the real presence of the Lord? Before you answer too quickly, there are quite different degrees of feeling God’s presence. One experience stands out in my mind that happened late on a Saturday night about a year after I went to Bible School in California. We had a powerful night on the streets of Fresno passing out gospel tracts, witnessing, and doing a little street preaching. When I got home that night Parris was already asleep. I read a little from my Bible (that was 43 years ago and I still remember the chapter, Luke 12) and then began to pray in the Spirit. I remember being on my knees and feeling as if Jesus appeared in front of me. I was so terrified I couldn’t open my eyes to see Him, I didn’t need to!!! He was there and I knew it. There was no new direction from the Lord, just a deepening of His calling on my life. He was with me and pleased about the direction in my life. Here is a testimony from the Azusa Street Revival where Frank Bartleman talks about a similar encounter with the Lord.

“After a little time of quiet waiting, a great calm settled down upon us. Then suddenly, without premonition, the Lord Jesus himself revealed himself to us. He seemed to stand directly between us, so close we could have reached out our hands and touched Him. But we did not dare to move. I could not even look. In fact, I seemed all spirit. His presence seemed more real, if possible, than if I could have seen and touched Him naturally. I forgot I had eyes or ears. My spirit recognized Him. A heaven of divine love filled and thrilled my soul. Burning fire went through me. In fact, my whole being seemed to flow down before Him like wax before the fire. I lost all consciousness of time or space, being conscious only of His wonderful presence. I worshipped at His feet. It seemed a veritable “mount of transfiguration.” I was lost in the pure Spirit.”

There is nothing in this life that remotely compares with the visitations of the Lord. We need Him now more than ever. Come Lord!!!

COME DOWN LORD

Is. 64:1-3 ¶ Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

Christians have been known to argue about the strangest things. I can remember a guest speaker trying to correct our church because we had been asking the Lord to “come down”. The speaker was saying that The Lord was already here by faith. I get that but there are different ways of God “being here”. He is everywhere all the time but His presence isn’t manifest or perceived all the time. Like Isaiah prayed, Lord, “rend the heavens and come down”, when that happens you are talking about a whole new world. That is exactly what revival is, God come down in the midst of His people. That is what the Azusa Street Revival was, God came down In Los Angeles in 1906 and the world has never been the same. Tongues of fire, lives set on fire by the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, changed the world. Here is a short testimony by Frank Bartleman, a journalist who experienced Azusa Street.

“Someone might be speaking. Suddenly the Spirit would fall upon the congregation. God himself would give the altar call. Men would fall all over the house, like the slain in battle, or rush for the altar en masse, to seek God. The scene often resembled a forest of fallen trees. Such a scene cannot be imitated. I never saw an altar call given in those early days. God himself would call them. And the preacher knew when to quit. When He spoke we all obeyed. It seemed a fearful thing to hinder or grieve the Spirit. The whole place was steeped in prayer. God was in His holy temple. It was for man to keep silent. The Shekinah glory rested there. In fact, some claim to have seen the glory by night over the building. I do not doubt it. I have stopped more than once within two blocks of the place and prayed for strength before I dared go on. “The presence of the Lord was so real.”
Lord, come down and invade our culture, our churches, our lives once again. We need Your presence to effect our secular world.