IN THE BEGINNING

Jn.1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I remember dealing with Christian culture shock when I first became a Christian. This new Christian community that I was suddenly thrust into spoke a whole different language than what I was accustomed to. I remember dealing with things like “the Lord spoke to me” or “the Lord spoke to my heart”. I wasn’t sure how to even take these statements, did God Himself say something out loud or was I missing something? After a while I figured out that most of this “speaking” was from impressions people had when reading the written word of God. Another phrase people used was “I feel a check in my spirit”. I really had no idea what that meant and I’m not sure I have that figured out yet. Could that mean simply “I don’t agree with what you are saying?” Another phrase was one that comes from today’s scripture verse. Jesus is actually called the Word of God. No one ever seems to explain what that means, maybe because no one has even taken the time to try to work out what it does mean. If Jesus is the word, whose word is He? The only possible answer is the Father because the Father, like Jesus and the Holy Spirit, are the only eternal beings that exist. If Jesus is the word He has always been the word. What exactly is a word? It is a vocal expression of an idea. If that is true, then Jesus must be the Father’s vocal expression of Himself. Jesus is the Father’s word. Here is how Martin Luther describes this.

“God, too, in his majesty and nature is pregnant with a Word or a conversation in which he engages with himself in his divine essence and which reflects the thoughts of his heart. This is as complete and perfect as God himself. No one but God alone sees, hears or comprehends this conversation. It is an invisible and incomprehensible conversation. His Word existed before all angels and all creatures existed, for subsequently he brought all creatures into being by means of this Word and conversation. God is so absorbed in this Word, thought or conversation that he pays no attention to anything else.”

In the beginning was the Word, the Father’s expression of Himself. John goes on in this chapter to take it one step farther. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. Wow!! This is the greatest of all mysteries, the unveiling of God in the person of the Son.

GRACE HEAPED UPON GRACE

John 1:16 -TPT -And now out of his fullness we are fulfilled!

And from him we receive grace heaped upon more grace!

This verse comes from someone who has drunk deeply from God’s fountain of grace. Grace not only introduces us to the Lord, it brings us to a place of drawing from His bounty. Grace is about more than a ticket to heaven when we die, it is free access into His abundance of life now. John said that he had seen Jesus, the author of this grace. Now he says that grace was heaped upon him all throughout his life. Matthew Henry, the great Puritan expositor, had also drunk profusely from this fountain of grace. Here is something Henry says about grace upon grace.

“The blessing received. It is grace; the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us. God’s good will works the good work, and then the good work qualifies us for further tokens of his good will. As the cistern receives water from the fulness of the fountain, the branches sap from the fulness of the root, and the air light from the fulness of the sun, so we receive grace from the fulness of Christ.”

We are drinking and drinking continually from this fountain of life. We are totally satisfied and sustained by grace. Because of grace I can now drink, and frankly love to drink, from this fountain of life. The more I drink the more I want, the more I drink the more I lose the taste for the things of this life. The more I drink, the more I change. This is the amazing work of grace, I am not only justified, I am sanctified by drinking from His cup. Here is another thought from Henry on today’s verse.

“Grace for grace is one grace to improve, confirm, and perfect another grace. We are changed into the divine image, from glory to glory, from one degree of glorious grace to another.”

Many today don’t take this message of grace far enough. They think that grace covers us so we can continue to derive our satisfaction from the pleasures of this life. How tragic! Grace doesn’t just cover our past, it introduces us to this new life where Jesus is making all things new. I think I will join John and drink again from this fountain of grace until I can also say, I have received from Him, grace heaped upon grace.

ONE WITH US

John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We can never really come to the end of the power of this verse. What was in the mind of the Lord when He became one of us? He gave us glimpse inside the veil in His prayer in Gethsemane. John’s account is much more detailed and intimate. These words are really beyond comprehension, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:20–21

He prayed that we could enjoy the intimacy with Him and His Father that He Himself enjoys. Unthinkable!!!! He became one of us to redeem us from our fallen condition and bring us into this oneness with the trinity. Eternity will be an unfolding of this incredible intimacy bursting with indescribable joy. Here is a glimpse of this truth from Jonathan Edwards.

“Such was the love of the Son of God to the human nature, that he desired a most near and close union with it, something like the union in the persons of the Trinity, nearer than there can be between any two distinct [beings]. This moved him to make the human become one with him, and himself to be one of mankind that should represent all the rest, for Christ calls us brethren and is one of us. How should [we] be encouraged, when we have such a Mediator! ’Tis one of us that is to plead for us, one that God from love to us has received into his own person from among us.”

Salvation is bigger than any of us realized. We were looking for help in this life and an escape from eternal damnation. We got way more than that when Jesus became a man. We have been brought into the heavenly places. Paul said we are seated with Him in heavenly places. So this is what the humanity of Jesus was all about, it was about oneness. Now our commission is to enjoy this new life and bring as many others into it that we can.

JACOB’S LADDER

Jn1:51 – And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

The ways of God are really quite amazing. Jacob was literally running for his life because of the deception he had spun against his brother Esau. Esau vowed to kill Jacob so Jacob took off. Forty miles later (remember Jacob was on foot) Jacob, exhausted from the journey, found a rock for a pillow and laid himself down to sleep. This was the night everything changed for Jacob. He had a dream in which the Lord appeared to him. He realized several amazing things that day. First, the God of Abraham was very real and very personal. Second, God had a plan for Jacob. Third, that if Jacob would follow the Lord; the Lord would protect him, bless him, and bring His purposes to pass in Jacob’s life. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on this passage.

“The mediation of Christ. He is this ladder, the foot on earth in his human nature, the top in heaven in his divine nature: or the former in his humiliation, the latter in his exaltation. All the intercourse between heaven and earth, since the fall, is by this ladder. Christ is the way; all God’s favors come to us, and all our services go to him, by Christ. If God dwell with us, and we with him, it is by Christ. We have no way of getting to heaven, but by this ladder; if we climb up any other way we are thieves and robbers. To this vision our Saviour alludes when he speaks of the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man; for the kind offices the angels do us, and the benefits we receive by their ministration, are all owing to Christ, who has reconciled things on earth and things in heaven, and made them all meet in himself.”

This dream was Jacob’s introduction to Christ. In this dream Jacob became aware of the incredible calling that was on his life. He was being called out of all his relationships that kept him from dependency on God. He was introduced into a supernatural life, “God was in this place and I didn’t even know.” Jacob was also launched into God’s purpose of redemption, “your seed will be like the dust of the earth and the stars of the sky”.

Maybe you feel like you are on the run like Jacob. God’s plans are way different than you would ever expect. Jacob went to sleep one way and woke up another way. What made the difference? He found himself at Bethel, the house of God.

THE SHEPHERD KING

Jn.1:10 NLT – He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.

If you think about what John is saying in today’s verse it is actually something that goes way beyond our ability to understand. How could the creator of all things enter into His own creation? The first few verses of John 1 describes the Word as God, the Word as being the creator of all things, and now the Word enters into the very world He created. John says it like this in vs.14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”. What this is like is the author of a play entering his own play or a artist entering his own work of art. Creators live outside of their work, especially the One Who created all things. He created time and space and matter and everything else that exists. For Him to become part of His own creation is unthinkable. That is the story of Christmas. Here are some comments by C. S. Lewis about authors and plays.

“When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else—something it never entered your head to conceive—comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side.”

What Lewis is describing is actually the second Advent of our Lord. When the Creator enters into this creation again it will be over. The time for decisions and picking sides will be over, that’s what this Christmas season and this world are all about. Have you stopped and acknowledged the coming of our Lord? Has His birth effected you and caused you to see this world from a different perspective. That’s what happened to those shepherds that first Christmas. Two kingdoms collided as the Creator of all things took on a human body. The glory shone, the angels sang, and the shepherds bowed before this Shepherd King.

FILLED TO OVERFLOWING

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Have you ever been so filled that there is no other option, you have to overflow? I guess what is really important is this question: what exactly are you filled with? In today’s verse John is describing an overflowing kind of filling. He describes fulness or overflowing as grace upon grace. So much love poured on us that it is impossible to contain it, we have to overflow. John is talking about God’s love for us and how it fills us until it begins to spill out all around us. Here is a quote from Spurgeon describing the overflowing joy that comes with being filled.

“Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of his society.”

The amazing thing about Bunyan’s words, they were written from prison. He was overflowing with a joy bigger than prison walls. It is striking that John who was exiled and later martyred and Bunyan who was imprisoned for preaching Christ both spoke of a fulness of God that transcended the rest of their lives. Nothing this world could throw at them could disrupt their joy, it was supernatural and untouchable. John Trappe also talks about this fulness found only in Christ.

“Grace for grace – “Which is both repletive and diffusive; not only of plenty, but of bounty; not a fulness of abundance only, but of redundance too. In Christians is an abundance of vessels, but in Christ, is the fount, these differ (say the schoolmen) as fire and that which holds the fire. Take a drop from the ocean, and it is so much the less; but the fulness of the fire is such, that light a thousand torches at it, it is not diminished.”

This word repletive means to satisfy, satiate, or provide something in abundance. So this fulness is provided in extreme measures and diffused everywhere we go. Redundance describes an excessive amount, way more than necessary. Trappe is describing overflow as pouring out in extreme measures everywhere we go. This is the story of Christmas, the Word took on human flesh that I can be filled to overflowing with the fulness of His grace. Merry Christmas !!!!!

CHRISTMAS WONDER

I remember the great tragedy of childhood when I finally realized that my mom and dad were really Santa Claus. I was about nine years old and I was devastated. How could Christmas ever be the same? The mystery and wonder were sucked out of my little world. From the time I was nine until I was twenty one Christmas was not quite the same. How could Christmas be Christmas without Santa? That was all about to change for me suddenly. It happened just after my conversion, Christmas of 1973, that the wonder of Christmas invaded my world again. This time it wasn’t make believe. I saw for myself the mystery of the birth of God’s only Son. I was reading Christmas cards and seeing the Bible verses regarding the birth of Jesus. Suddenly my eyes were opened to what Christmas was all about; God Himself I become a man. John the Apostle said it like this in Jn.1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”. God had become a man! Unthinkable! A virgin had given birth to God’s only Son. Here is how Eugene Peterson describes this Christmas wonder.

“Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring this fullness, this wholeness, of human life. Once a year, each Christmas, for a few days at least, we and millions of our neighbors turn aside from our preoccupations with life reduced to biology or economics or psychology and join together in a community of wonder. The wonder keeps us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always exceeds our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can make.Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring this fullness, this wholeness, of human life. Once a year, each Christmas, for a few days at least, we and millions of our neighbors turn aside from our preoccupations with life reduced to biology or economics or psychology and join together in a community of wonder. The wonder keeps us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always exceeds our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can make.”

So have you lost the wonder of Christmas? You will not find it in the shopping mall or under the Christmas tree, this wonder can only be found at the manger, worshipping God’s only Son.

OPEN YOUR HEART TO JESUS

Jn.1:11-12 – He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

In yesterday’s devotion I spoke about receiving from the Lord. That was the first lesson I learned as I embraced the outpouring of the Spirit in 1994. Somehow, my receiver had been broken. I had been serving and counseling and praying and preaching and binding and loosing for so long that I had become stuck in the pouring out mode. Even when standing in the line to receive prayer the tendency was an aggressive, intercessory type of prayer. There is a place for that but not when you are trying to drink in the Holy Spirit. To receive from the Lord our stance needs to change. Words like compliant, humble, open, and hungry come to mind. Jesus said it like this, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink”. Here is how Spurgeon speaks about receiving.

“When I receive Jesus, He becomes my Saviour, so mine that neither life nor death shall be able to rob me of Him. All this is to receive Christ—to take Him as God’s free gift; to realize Him in my heart, and to appropriate Him as mine. Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not only received these blessings, we have received CHRIST JESUS Himself. It is true that He gave us life from the dead. He gave us pardon of sin; He gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have received Christ Himself. The Son of God has been poured into us, and we have received Him, and appropriated Him. What a heartful Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain Him.”

When my heart first opened to the outpouring that summer of 1994, I felt like waves of glory were literally washing over me. I was shocked at how real and how profound this outpouring was. It was unmistakeable and undeniable. The only prerequisite was spiritual thirst which flows from a profound humility. David says it like this-

Ps 34:1,2 – “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice”.

GRACE FOR GRACE AGAIN

Jn.1:16 – For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

Paul tried his best to paint spiritual pictures with His words. He loved to use phrases such as faith to faith and glory to glory. These are called “hebraisms”. In today’s verse John tries his hand with these beautiful words”grace upon grace”. This was John’s way to describe the infinite nature of the Lord. He calls this facet of the Lord “grace upon grace”. Grace is the supernatural influence of God on our lives that enables us to see spiritual reality that was foreign to us in the past. One moment we have no interest in spiritual things, the next moment we are swimming with John and Paul in this world of grace to grace. Here is how Augustine describes this verse.

“What, then, is “grace for grace”? By faith we render God favorable to us; and inasmuch as we were not worthy to have our sins forgiven, and because we, who were unworthy, received so great a benefit it is called grace. What is grace? That which is freely given. What is “freely given”? Given, not paid. If it was due, wages were given, not grace bestowed; but if it was reply due, thou wast good; but if, as is true, thou wast evil, but didst believe on Him who justifies the ungodly (What is, Who justifies the ungodly? Of the ungodly He makes pious), consider what did by right hang over thee by the law, and what thou hast obtained by grace. But having obtained that grace of faith, thou shalt be just by faith (for the just lives by faith); and thou shalt obtain favor of God by living by faith.“

So the first moment we taste the grace of God we enter into this beautiful world. What this verse teaches us is that first taste is just that, the beginning of an unfolding, unending, unsearchable encounter with the Living God. He attracts us by grace, satisfies us, sustains us, and inspires us. He helps us in our darkest moments, fills us with unspeakable joy, and gives us a clear understanding of our purpose in life. Grace is more than pardon, it is actually the divine, given influence on our soul that changes our world. So go ahead and get started. Dive into the ocean of grace. Maybe you too will begin to talk this new language describing the indescribable world of God.

ZOE LIFE

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“Ζωὴ-The fountain of life”

John 1:4 “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

ROBERTSON WORD PICTURES said, “The power that creates and sustains life in the universe is the Logos.”

The Gospel of John mentions life (Ζωὴ) 36 times. If you think about the gospel of John he uses simple words to explain the most complex truths of Christ. Life, bread, light, water, are repeated over and over again. The Zoe life of God is “the peculiar mode of the divine operation upon men”. In other words redemption will always be summed up as supernatural and indescribable.

Pulpit Commentary has a great way of interrupting the Ζωὴ life of god. It says; “There is one impassable chasm which neither history, nor science, nor philosophy can span, viz. that between nothing and something. The evangelist has found the only possible method of facing it by the conception of One who from eternity has within himself the potency of the transition. The assertion now is that life, ζωή, with all its manifestations and in all its regions; that the life of plant, tree, and animal, the life of man, of society, and of worlds as such; that the life of the body, soul, and spirit, the life transitory and the life eternal (ζωὴ αἰώνιος), was in the Logos, “who was God and in the beginning with God, and he communicated to the Son his own Divine self dependence.”

Wow what a mouthful! Who can describe the life of God in the soul of Man! He breeches the chasm we created! We see Jesus giving life throughout his life and he continues to give us of himself now! “Life, in all its energies, past, present, and future, is an outcome, an effluence, of the Eternal Word.” (Pulpit) And we have all of that on a daily basis the rest of our lives! What a precious treasure we have indeed!

Again Pulpit commentary says, “John was reaching after something far more momentous even than that dogma of ancient faith and modern science.”The light of men” seems to be the faculty or condition, the inward and outward means, by which men know God. “The light of men” is the conscience and reason, the eye of the soul by which the human race comes into contact with truth and right and beauty. In the life of conscience and reason a higher and more revealing light is made to shine upon man, upon his origin, upon his Divine image, upon his destiny.”

I

We can call it divine illumination. My friend you need to give more credit to the divine within you and reach forth what your destined for! Christ himself has come to live within imparting the Ζωὴ (Zoe) kind of life!