TO KNOW HIM

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

Do you know Jesus? That is a common phrase heard amongst evangelical believers. The problem with this is it is easily misunderstood. What does it mean to know Jesus? Does it mean have you answered an altar call, or prayed the prayer ? Or does it mean you have answered the question right when you are asked are you going to heaven when you die? Paul talked about “knowing” Jesus in today’s verse. For Him it wasn’t a casual statement or something that happened once upon a time, it was a deep, intimate relationship with the Lord that was increasing throughout his life. It wasn’t an add on in his life, for Paul knowing Christ was his life. Paul said that to know Christ was the most valuable possession that he owned and the very pursuit of all his energy. His ministry seemed to be an overflow of his pursuit. Here is how Steven Fry describes Paul’s statement.

“From a prison cell in Rome, Paul pens this personal letter in which he comes to terms with an accomplished past and a confining present. After his past as a persecutor of God’s people and through his “superior” religious activities as a Pharisee, Paul came to the liberating conclusion that all is rubbish compared to knowing the Lord! Freed from the stagnation of yesterday’s victories and the emotional paralysis of yesterday’s mistakes, Paul knew that the only thing that ultimately counted was knowing the Lord and being obedient to His will. Not only was his past subsumed by this singular passion, his present imprisonment could not snatch from him the joy of knowing Christ. Prison chains could not keep him from pursuing God, nor dull his effectiveness in ministry. Paul’s desire to know Christ sprang from no other motive but to enjoy Him. He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake, not his own. He was a lover of God, not a user of God.”

I love that statement, He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake. So let me ask that question once again, do you know Jesus? Do you know Him as your passion, your goal in life and your friend? Answering this question is where life begins.

MY PEOPLE

2 COR.6:16 – Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

We have all been called lots of things; some worse than others. A famous running back for the Dallas Cowboys, Hershel Walker, said he thought his name was “Get Wood” until he was almost grown up. What kind of names have you been called? Student, worker, black man, white man, athlete, husband, wife, chump or looser; you get the drift, we all have been called and labeled all sorts of things. Today’s scripture tells us one of the sweetest things we can be called, my people. The Lord Himself has called us His very own people, what could be better than that? Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this blessing.

“What a sweet title: My people! What a cheering revelation: Their God! How much of meaning is couched in those two words, My people! Here is speciality. The whole world is God’s; the heaven, even the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s, and he reigneth among the children of men; but of those whom he hath chosen, whom he hath purchased to himself, he saith what he saith not of others-My people. In this word there is the idea of proprietorship. In a special manner the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. All the nations upon earth are his; the whole world is in his power; yet are his people, his chosen, more especially his possession; for he has done more for them than others; he has bought them with his blood; he has brought them nigh to himself; he has set his great heart upon them; he has loved them with an everlasting love, a love which many waters cannot quench, and which the revolutions of time shall never suffice in the least degree to diminish.”

I am one of God’s people. He has loved me and known me from the days of eternity. He has set me apart for Himself, what could be a higher privilege than that? I am more privileged than a corporate executive, a Senator, judge, or a celebrity doesn’t have the privileges that belong to me. We are more special than Princes, Kings, Prime Ministers, or Presidents. We are the very people of God.

CHRISTS FINAL PROMISE

John 14:2,3 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

You can usually tell what is important to people when death draws near. I’ll never forget the day of my dad’s death. It was Thanksgiving Day 1987. My dad wasn’t interested in his bank account or any of his possessions that day, he wanted to be with his children. We all gathered around his bed as he said his last goodbyes and took his last breath.

Today’s verse is just that for Jesus, He is gathering with His friends for His last words before He died. In chapters 14-16 in John’s gospel we see an intimate glimpse into those last moments with His friends. In this passage He talked about what really mattered. He revealed why He really came, to open up a way for us to live a new kind of life. This flows out of a new intimacy with God characterized by a profound relationship with the Holy Spirit. Here are some words from Jonathan Edwards about this passage.
“The promises of the new covenant were never so particularly expressed and so solemnly given forth by Christ, in all the time that he was upon earth, as in this discourse. Christ promises them mansions in his Father’s house. Here he promises them whatever blessings they should need and ask in his name. Here he does, more solemnly and fully than anywhere else, give forth and confirm the promise of the Holy Spirit, which is the sum of the blessings of the covenant of grace. Here he promises them his own and his Father’s gracious presence and favor. Here he promises them peace. Here he promises them his joy. Here he promises grace to bring forth holy fruit, and victory over the world. And indeed, there seems to be nowhere else so full and complete an edition of the covenant of grace in the whole Bible, as in this dying discourse of Christ with his eleven true disciples.”
Here we see that Jesus died for more than just a life that lasts forever, we already had that being created in the image of God. He came and He died to give us a different quality of life. This life is the very life that Jesus enjoyed with His Father. He purchased that for us. This new kind of life begins when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This Spirit filled life is life indeed.

I AM YOUR GOD

Psa. 50:7 ¶ “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you.  I am God, your God.

It’s funny the different reasons people pray or believe in God. They say there are no atheists in a fox hole, death has a way of bringing us to a place of faith in God. This tends to indicate that one reason people believe in God is that nobody wants to die, and nobody wants to go to hell. Another source or reason for believing in God is perceived need. The need could be financial, health related, family issues, or a vast array of other problems. So need or problems is often a good reason to pray. But this is the elephant in the room, shouldn’t we pray for the greatest of all rewards? ‘What would that be?’, you ask. Why that would be God Himself. He even said in His word that when we seek Him with all of our heart we would find Him. He also told Abraham that He would be Abraham’s exceeding great reward. Augustine was all about this idea of seeing God as our reward. He even called Him the sweetest of all pleasures. Here are Augustine’s thoughts from today’s verse.
“When then shall I speak to thee? If thou hearest. When hearest thou? If thou art my people. For, “Hear, my people:” thou hearest not if thou art an alien people. “Hear, my people, and I will speak to thee: Israel, and I will testify to thee.” …For “Thy God,” is properly said to that man whom God doth keep more as one of His family, as though in His household, as though in His peculiar: “Thy God am I.” What wilt thou more? Requirest thou a reward from God, so that God may give thee something; so that what He hath given thee may be thine own? Behold God Himself, who shall give, is thine own. What richer than He? Gifts thou wast desiring, thou hast the Giver Himself. “God, thy God, I am.”
The Bible, when taken at face value is shocking. We are called God’s children and He calls Himself our very own God. If that is true, then we have a life better than anyone can even imagine. God Himself, the Creator of all pleasures, has made Himself available to us. It is in knowing Him and enjoying Him that our lives finally find purpose.

BUNDLE OF MYRRH

A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me.
Song of Solomon 1:13

Song of Solomon is filled with countless numbers of pictures of the beauty and greatness of our Lord. In this verse Solomon describes The Lord as a bundle of myrrh. Myrrh speaks of the suffering and the fragrance of Christ. His suffering in my place becomes an unmistakeable and irreplaceable fragrance. It is a constant source of life and motivation in the midst of the unpredictable nature of our daily lives. The life of Christ that was released toward me as a result of His suffering is beyond comprehension. It is a bundle and more than a bundle. It is a bundle of bundles to my soul. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this bundle of myrrh.

“Myrrh may well be chosen as the type of Jesus on account of its preciousness, its perfume, its pleasantness, its healing, preserving, disinfecting qualities, and its connection with sacrifice. But why is he compared to a bundle of myrrh? First, for plenty. He is not a drop of it, he is a casket full. He is not a sprig or flower of it, but a whole bundle. There is enough in Christ for all my necessities; let me not be slow to avail myself of him. Our well-beloved is compared to a bundle again, for variety: for there is in Christ not only the one thing needful, but in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,everything needful is in him. Take Jesus in his different characters, and you will see a marvelous variety-Prophet, Priest, King, Husband, Friend, Shepherd. Consider him in his life, death, resurrection, ascension, second advent; view him in his virtue, gentleness, courage, self-denial, love, faithfulness, truth, righteousness-everywhere he is a bundle of preciousness.”

Spurgeon used several graphic words to describe this bundle of myrrh. He said it was precious. The death of Jesus and the benefits that flow to us are precious. It has value that has no number because this purchased life is invaluable. He also describes this myrrh as perfume. There is an atmosphere or smell about all those who have tasted this preciousness. This fragrance cannot be duplicated, it is the perfume of heaven. Spurgeon also spoke of the healing qualities of this healing myrrh. Every wound on the body of our Lord Jesus cries out healing to His people. This bundle of myrrh is a healing bundle, there is healing there for you and for me. He also spoke of the preserving nature of this spiritual myrrh. Christ keeps us for Himself. No matter what we face in life, nothing or no one can pluck us from His hand. Spurgeon also commented about the disinfecting qualities of this heavenly myrrh. We can easily become infected with the pollution in this life, this love relationship with Christ, this heavenly bundle disinfects us from the filth of this world. Yes Jesus is precious, He is the Lover of my soul, and yes He is a bundle of myrrh to me.