Who do YOU say that I am ?

MERRY MONDAY- BY PARRIS

Matt. 16:15 – “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

It is imperative that Christ comes to each of us at some point in our lives, (sooner I pray than later), and asks us this same question. Even the disciples didn’t directly answer him until he imposed this question upon them. They wanted to deflect and tell him what others have said. Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me paint the backdrop of this question. Jesus had been traveling from one city to the next and there had been one disappointment after another. The cities where most of His mighty works were done, repented not. The people welcomed his material things; but when He began to speak to them of heavenly things, they “went back, and walked no more with Him.” Jesus then came to the region of Caesarea Philippi and took the disciples to a remote and rocky region by the coasts where he could birth the Ecclesia- His Church. Expositors bible says, “As the dew of Hermon, and as the flowing of the water-springs, shall be that Church of the living God, which, as the sequel will unfold, had its first foundation on this rocky hillside and by these river sources.” Up to this time He has spoken always of the kingdom, never of the church.

Peter’s answer came not from himself but by the Spirit. Expositor bible says, “This is a question we should every one of us be frequently putting to ourselves, “Who do we say, what kind of one do we say, that the Lord Jesus is? Is he precious to us? Is he in our eyes the chief of ten thousand? Is he the Beloved of our souls?” It is well or ill with us, according as our thoughts are right or wrong concerning Jesus Christ?”

I can almost picture Christ standing amidst the rocky mountain cliff and commending Peter for his confession.

Matthew Henry says, “This is the conclusion of the whole matter.” And Lange jumps in with “we must enter it by a complete transformation into a second and new life which is from heaven. This new life was germinating in the hearts of the disciples. Every believer who is enlightened by the Father is also a rock.”

So as your start into Monday I pray you too by the Holy Ghost confess; HE IS MY CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. As Jude wrote, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 24-25). It might just change your mundane Monday!

LOVELY

SOS 5:16 – His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Nothing in this life is ever totally perfect. That new car that you really, really wanted inevitably gets that first ding that seems to stand out like a sore thumb. Then there is that job that you worked so hard to land and you get there, and well, it’s just another job. Of course there is that girl (or guy) that you have had your eye on and the relationship starts, well you know the rest of that story. There is no such thing as a perfect diamond, perfect round of golf, or even a perfect city. Everything in this world is imperfect, somehow tarnished by the fallen world that we live in that seems to touch everything. That’s what makes Jesus even more special, as Solomon famously said, He is ‘altogether lovely’. He is total perfection; from the moment that you meet Him and throughout years of walking with Him. You can never see any blemish in His nature or character. He is kind, powerful, holy, wise, generous, and merciful. As He appeared perfect at the beginning, the closer you get to Him and the longer you walk with Him you have to join the chorus an say, “he is altogether lovely”. Here is how Spurgeon describes this verse.

“Our love is not as a seal set upon His heart of love alone; it is fastened upon His arm of power also; nor is there a single part of Him upon which it does not fix itself. We anoint His whole person with the sweet spikenard of our fervent love. His whole life we would imitate; His whole character we would transcribe. In all other beings we see some lack, in Him there is all perfection. The best even of His favored saints have had blots upon their garments and wrinkles upon their brows; He is nothing but loveliness. All earthly suns have their spots: the fair world itself hath its wilderness; we cannot love the whole of the most lovely thing; but Christ Jesus is gold without alloy-light without darkness—glory without cloud—“Yea, He is altogether lovely.”

Have you seen His loveliness for yourself? Today is a good day to start, draw near in worship and you too will behold the beauty of the Lord.

DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS

Hag.2:7 – and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts.

This prophesy from the prophet Isaiah is one of the most beloved promises that the Lord gave to us of the coming of the messiah. In this verse the Lord compares the coming of Christ to the manifest glory that was in Solomon’s temple. Haggai prophesied during the rebuilding of the temple after the Jews returned from exile. The people were grieving because the new temple did not have the Shekinah glory that Solomon’s temple enjoyed. This new temple would one day welcome the Lord Jesus Himself. Rather than coming in a cloud, He had now come in the man Jesus Christ. This verse also gives a glimpse into the very heart of our faith. The Lord is referred to as the Desire of all Nations. Inside of every human heart is a need, and yes a desire, to know the Lord intimately. Jesus should be the object of desire of all human hearts. Today, multitudes from all nations are finding their desire met in Him. Here is how Jonathan Edwards described this prophesy.

“And the prophet Haggai 2:7 comforts them, that God will fill that house with glory by the coming of the desire of all nations, of that divine person who used to appear in the glory above the mercy seat. He shall come not only as the desire and delight and spiritual husband of the Jews, but of all nations. When God says here, “I will fill this house with glory,” there is without doubt reference to those things mentioned, Exodus 40:34, “Then a cloud covered the tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle”….Thus it was when the tabernacle was built: and so when the first temple was built, the cloud of glory filled the temple as a token of the presence of the angel of the covenant. But now when the second temple was built, no such thing appeared; but here ’tis promised that God would fill this house with glory by the coming of the Messiah, as the desire not of the Jews only but all nations.”

Many Bible teachers and commentators today say that this verse is not a messianic promise. They say that this verse is speaking about the nations that will come and bring their treasures to the house of God in the last days. Actually I think both meanings are true. What is more important? Obviously having the desire of our heart satisfied by Christ is the ultimate, that is something the treasures of this earth can never do.

PREACH

Lk. 4:16 -18 – And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,

Today’s passage reminds us why Jesus came to earth as a man; it also reminds us what it means to be one of His followers. This is our first real glimpse into the preaching of Jesus. This is the message He preached in His home town. He was preaching in the synagogue He had attended all of His life. He saw the same people He had known throughout His childhood still sitting in their familiar spots like they had done for all of those years. His message outlined what He would preach and live for the next three years; it also upended the apple cart. He started by saying He was anointed to preach good news to the poor. He came to break the power of poverty from our lives through His death and bring God’s message of provision in His actions and words. He would feed the hungry as well as teach them about the blessing of sewing and reaping. After all it was Jesus that taught us “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.

Secondly He proclaimed release to the captives. Man has been enslaved to sin since our first parents fell. The message of Christ is forgiveness and release from the power of sin. His death is the basis for our freedom from those horrible shackles of sin. We are freed from sin”s bondage by the power of forgiveness.

Next Jesus proclaimed recovery of sight to the blind. Not only did Jesus open sick, blind eyes; He also opens the eyes of our heart. One touch from His hand and we view our world differently. This is part of our ministry, opening the eye of the spiritually blind to the beauty of our Lord.

He also preached healing from oppression. The power of the gospel releases us from the ramifications of our sinful past. No matter how much we messed things up He has provided a way of escape.

Finally, Jesus declared the beginning of the season of God’s favor. The gospel is good news. The season of our bondage is over. We are now entering the season of God’s favor on our lives through the power of the gospel.

CHRIST ALONE

1Tim. 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Something really amazing happened to me at my conversion, I couldn’t stop thinking about the person, Jesus Christ. I was mesmerized with everything about Him, I guess you could say I was smitten. Actually, what I was experiencing was the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. That is one of His ministries, He attracts us to Jesus, then He magnifies Him. Some call this irresistible grace, I call it life changing. Sadly, many preachers have moved away from this Christ centered focus that birthed our journey in the first place. For me, there is not really anything else to preach about. When you see Christ as He is what else could hold your interest. Should I talk about money or maybe about politics. Maybe I should talk about success in life or how to be a better me. Actually, none of these topics can hold my interest, I have seen Him and He is all consuming, like Solomon said, “He is altogether lovely”. The Lord has used Jonathan Edwards to return me to a God centered message, here is something from his personal narrative. It is quite devastating.

“Once as I rode out into the woods for my health in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view, that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love and meek, gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet appeared also great above the heavens. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency, great enough to swallow up all thought and conception—which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour; which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears, and weeping aloud.”

Our world is in desperate need for a return to God centered preaching. I’ll never forget something that happened to me several years ago. A longstanding member of our church got upset and left the church, I am sure you have never seen that before. She let me know why she was leaving (they normally do). This precious lady said that all I preach about is God!!!!. It is always the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Actually I had to receive that as a compliment. I no longer feel I have to be an expert on all topics. I am not a financial consultant, an expert on marriage and family, I am not even a political consultant. All I am, by the grace of God, is a preacher. I have been given the awesome responsibility of preaching and describing the unsearchable riches of Christ. I have come to the conclusion that when He is lifted up and people experience Him, He tends to sort out all of those other arenas in our lives.

CHRISTIAN HEDONIST

shane-rounce-378060.jpgPsa. 16:11 ¶ You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

C. S. Lewis, John Piper, and Jonathan Edwards have helped convert me to Christian hedonism. You might not like that term at first but if you stay open and evaluate the facts you too may be converted. First let’s look at the definition of the word hedonism from Webster’s Dictionary:

“the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life”

If hedonism is a philosophy of life that our chief purpose is the pursuit of happiness in this life, a Christian hedonist is someone whose main goal in life is to pursue pleasure in Christ alone. I guess the reason that this sounds strange to many people, including Christians, is that they have not discovered the pleasure that is available to them in Christ. To know Him intimately is a taste of heavenly joy, nothing in this life even comes close. We can taste this joy for ourselves most powerfully in two ways. First we taste this joy in reading the Bible. The Psalmist may have said it best, in Ps.119:103 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Secondly, we find ourselves caught up in His presence of joy when we press into His presence through worship. Again we look to the Psalmist for springs of joy, in Psa. 63:3 “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You”.

Here are some thoughts from John Piper on Christian hedonism.

“God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. That’s the shortest summary of what we mean by Christian Hedonism. If that is true, then there is no conflict between your greatest exhilaration and God’s greatest glorification. In fact, not only is there no conflict between your happiness and God’s glory, but his glory shines in your happiness, when your happiness is in him. And since God is the source of greatest happiness, and since he is the greatest treasure in the world, and since his glory is the most satisfying gift he could possibly give us, therefore it is the kindest, most loving thing he could possibly do—to reveal himself, and magnify himself and vindicate himself for our everlasting enjoyment.“

So that’s where I am after all these years, enjoying this treasure I have discovered in Christ and using all means possible to share with others this liberating power of joy found only in the Lord. Open your Bible, draw near to the Lord in worship, maybe you too will become a Christian hedonist.

CHRIST – MY LIFE

Col. 3:4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

“Christ’s life was more than His teaching, more than His work, more even than His death. It was His life in the presence of God and man that gave value to what He said and did and suffered. And it is this life, glorified in the resurrection, that He imparts to His people and enables them to live out before men.”
What a mouthful from Andrew Murray. The very life that Jesus enjoyed and modeled for us has been given to us. This is the life of Christ on earth that began on the day of Pentecost. This is Christ in us, this is my life. Have you discovered this incredible secret? Not many have. Christianity is often viewed as a belief or a creed not as the very essence of life. It is in Him that we find our purpose and our joy, when Christ is your life then you are living indeed. Andrew Murray continues on this vital verse.
“It was life in the new brotherhood of the Holy Spirit that made both Jews and Greeks feel that there was some superhuman power about Christ’s disciples. His followers gave living proof of the truth of what they said, that God’s love had come down and taken possession of them.

Spiritual leaders agree that the life of Christians is either the greatest asset or the greatest obstacle in the winning of souls for Christ. Too many miss the deepest secret of power and success in their work because they do not live out the Christ life on an entirely different level from where other men live. When Christ sent out His disciples it was with this command: “But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power “from on high” (Luke 24:49).”
So this life isn’t just for me alone, it is to be enjoyed and shared with everyone. Christ our life becomes who we are. This helps us understand the meaning of Paul’s outrageous statement, “I have been crucified with Christ”. Crucifixion is not really appealing until we get what comes next. “The life that I now live I live by faith in Jesus Christ”. Paul is describing here the very crux of our Christian faith. It’s not our life that we are trying to promote or maintain, it is the very life of Jesus Christ in us.

THE ANGELS ARE STILL SINGING

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Lk 2:13,14)

This was the strangest day ever for these shepherds. They were just simple men; after all, they were only shepherds. They were just ordinary Jewish men, just taking care of their flocks, trying to survive and support their family. But this was not an ordinary night—this was the night that would define their lives. They had never seen an angel, they had never met or even heard of anyone who ever had, but that was about to change.

Suddenly a light like they had never seen filled the meadow where they were resting, and they were suddenly all wide awake. Then they heard it; it was a sound like they had never heard before, it was music, but much more than music. This music was like a living being, and it seemed to be full of life itself. It was all around them; it was inside of them, but seemed to be coming from these strange, holy creatures that were lighting up the sky with the glory reflecting off of them.

They were singing about a Savior, born of a virgin in a manger in nearby Bethlehem. As unbelievable as it sounded, after what they had just witnessed they knew it was true. Suddenly they were on the run and they couldn’t stop until they found this child wrapped in swaddling clothes in the stable at the inn in Bethlehem.

These angels are still singing after 2000 years, and they are not about to stop. How could they stop ? Living in the presence of such greatness, they have to sing! Those that have ears to hear can still hear their singing today. Charles Wesley heard the angels singing in the 1700’s and wrote his famous song “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. Listen to one of the verses of his song— you never know, maybe you will hear the voice of the angels in his song.

 

 

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,

Stamp Thine image in its place:

Second Adam from above,

Reinstate us in Thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,

Thee, the Life, the inner man:

O, to all Thyself impart,

Formed in each believing heart.

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King”

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface”. All of us carry the “likeness” of the fallen man, Adam. Christ came to stamp His image in its place. As we draw near to the Lord, the hope of Christmas is being formed in each of us—the image of Christ Himself.

 

 

SOLO CHRISTO

SOLO CHRISTO

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 14:5–6

Before I became a Christian I went on a search to find God. I thought I had tried Christianity, all I had really done was sporadically attend Sunday School as a child. I had never really known The Lord for myself. My search led me to some interesting places. I remember going to a meeting with Seals and Crofts after one of their concerts. They shared their belief in some so called prophet by the name of Bahaullah. That was a really weird, creepy experience. Then there was the feast at the Krishna temple. They danced before their idols and then ate the strangest food. Reading their rule book finished me off, I’ll spare you the bizarre details in that book. Finally, some Christians shared Christ with me, there was a simplicity and power in their words. Suddenly I got it, it was Christ alone. There was no other way to get to heaven. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me”. Martin Luther was adamant about the teaching he called “Christ Alone”. Here is something he said.

“Thomas thought it was strange that Christ was saying, “You know the way to the place where I am going,” when Jesus had said nothing about where he was going. He was envisioning a road that a person takes from one city to another or a path that a person walks on. The disciples were saying, “We don’t know the way. We don’t even know through which city gate you’re planning to leave. How can we know the way?”
Christ replied to their worldly thoughts, “Here’s what I mean: You know the way. In other words, you know the person who is the Way—me. For you see me and know that I am the Christ, your Lord and Savior. Since you know me, you also know the way and everything else you need to know.” This is remarkable. All our teaching and faith should center and depend on Christ. Setting aside all of our wisdom and skill, we should know nothing except the crucified Christ. From God’s perspective, the highest wisdom and knowledge above all other wisdom and knowledge is to truly know this person Christ. We come to God through Christ alone.”

I love the sound of that; “Christ Alone”. He has accomplished everything necessary for our salvation. He has purchased and forgiven us with His blood. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father as our priest, advocate, and mediator. He has baptized us in the Holy Spirit as the heavenly “minister of the sanctuary”. Our search for eternal life and the enjoyment of life in this world has come to an end. As Billy Graham says, “There are many paths that lead to Jesus, but only Jesus leads us to God.”

CHRIST ALONE

CHRIST ALONE

1Tim. 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Something really amazing happened to me at my conversion, I couldn’t stop thinking about the person, Jesus Christ. I was mesmerized with everything about Him, I guess you could say I was smitten. Actually, what I was experiencing was the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. That is one of His ministries, He attracts us to Jesus, then He magnifies Him. Some call this irresistible grace, I call it life changing. Sadly, many preachers have moved away from this Christ centered focus that birthed our journey in the first place. For me, there is not really anything else to preach about. When you see Christ as He is what else could hold your interest. Should I talk about money or maybe about politics. Maybe I should talk about success in life or how to be a better me. Actually, none of these topics can hold my interest, I have seen Him and He is all consuming, like Solomon said, “He is altogether lovely”. The Lord has used Jonathan Edwards to return me to a God centered message, here is something from his personal narrative. It is quite devastating.

“Once as I rode out into the woods for my health in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view, that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love and meek, gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet appeared also great above the heavens. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency, great enough to swallow up all thought and conception—which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour; which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears, and weeping aloud.”

Our world is in desperate need for a return to God centered preaching. I’ll never forget something that happened to me several years ago. A longstanding member of our church God upset and left the church, I am sure you have never seen that before. She let me know why she was leaving (they normally do). This precious lady said that all I preach about is God!!!!. It is always the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Actually I had to receive that as a compliment. I no longer feel I have to be an expert on all topics. I am not a financial consultant, an expert on marriage and family, I am not even a political consultant. All I am, by the grace of God, is a preacher. I have been given the awesome responsibility of preaching and describing the unsearchable riches of Christ. I have come to the conclusion that when He is lifted up and people experience Him, He tends to sort out all of those other arenas in our lives.