TOO EASILY PLEASED

Ps. 63:5 – My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

I think we live in a world really confused at the basic essence of spiritual things. Many think that getting too close to the Lord will diminish our enjoyment of life, nothing could be more wrong. In today’s passage, David is describing a totally satisfied and happy life that has as its only source spiritual delight. The Lord Himself becomes the source of joy and the object of our delight once we are transformed by His grace. It’s not that our pursuit of happiness and pleasure is wrong, its just we are looking in the wrong places having our eyes blinded by this present age. Read this famous and often quoted statement from C. S. Lewis; I have to agree whole heartedly, we are far too easily pleased.

“The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

So what kind of delights are you caught up in today? The deceiving pleasures of this age blind our eyes to the greatest pleasure of all. One taste of His heavenly sweetness and you will gladly abandon the foolish pleasures of sin. I have to agree with David and Mr. Lewis, Christ Himself is far more satisfying than anything in this mud puddle of a world.

CLEARLY SEEN

Rom 3:21,22 – But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

The righteousness of God is what the Bible is all about. It is that righteousness that leads to a relationship with the Lord that we lost at the fall of man. It was cloaked in types and shadows in the Old Testament. It was displayed in sacrifices and symbolic pictures all throughout the scriptures. It is now manifested, or clearly seen, through faith in Christ. Jesus displayed the righteousness of God in His life, offered it to us at the cross, and poured it out on us through the Holy Spirit. It can only be seen and received by faith. Here is how this is explained in the Fire Bible.

“Since we could never deserve his mercy or favor by our own efforts, through his grace God has provided a way for us to be restored to a right relationship with himself. It is a way that satisfied his perfect justice which required a penalty and punishment for our sin—and yet provides forgiveness, freedom from guilt and victory over the power of evil. God’s plan of spiritual salvation saves people from the final consequences of sin and provides them with the gift of eternal life through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. Receiving this gift is what makes a person righteous….. God’s righteousness, as revealed through the NT message of Jesus Christ, is still available to all who accept the forgiveness and new life made possible through Jesus’ personal sacrifice, which paid the full penalty for our sin against God. The power of this message to provide spiritual salvation and to bring people into a right relationship with God is constantly fresh and relevant.”

To some this righteousness is clearly seen, to others it seems invisible. What is the secret to step out of the shroud of secrecy into the light of this brand new life? The secret is faith and that is given only as a gift. It is this faith that opens our eyes to see the righteousness of God that is offered as a gift through Jesus Christ. How do you know if this gift is for you? It is available only to those who want it.

THE LIGHT PENETRATES EVERY CRACK AND CREVICE

James 1:17 – Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

I love the way the Lord constantly goes out of His way to show Himself to the world. You ever wonder how long the sun has been shining. It is constant, consistent, and unrelenting. It is a great picture of the radiant light that shines continually from the Lord. The Message Bible states this verse like this, “Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle”. But just like any picture of the Lord it is imperfect at best. The sun is limited in its radiance, as James says, there are shadows of turning with the sun that are non-existent with the Lord. His rays are more uniform and encompassing than the rays of the sun. Here is how Albert Barnes describes this characteristic of the Lord.

“(The sun) rises and sets; it crosses the line, and seems to go far to the south, and sends its rays obliquely on the earth; then it ascends to the north, recrosses the line, and sends its rays obliquely on southern regions. By its revolutions it produces the changes of the seasons, and makes a constant variety on the earth in the productions of different climates. In this respect God is not indeed like the sun. With him there is no variableness, not even the appearance of turning. He is always the same, at all seasons of the year, and in all ages; there is no change in his character, his mode of being, his purposes and plans. What he was millions of ages before the worlds were made, he is now; what he is now, he will be countless millions of ages hence. We may be sure that whatever changes there may be in human affairs; whatever reverses we may undergo; whatever oceans we may cross, or whatever mountains we may climb, or in whatever worlds we may hereafter take up our abode, God is the same.”

There is a constancy with God that is called in the scripture, light. He is the light of the world. It’s in His light we see light or revelation that is the source of all our life. In Him there are no shadows or changes, He brings light and awakening to every part of our lives.

SEEING THE WORLD BY A WHOLE NEW LIGHT

Ps.36:9 – For with You is the fountain of life;

In Your light we see light.

I see the world differently than I used to. The light that revealed Christ to me has literally changed my view of everything. Things like marriage and money and football; my way of looking at all of those things has changed. I can’t even go for a drive or a walk in the neighborhood without being taken back by this glorious world of light. You see when Christ turned the light on in my life He lit up the whole world. Just think about it, when blind Bartimaeus was first awakened from his sleep he not only saw Christ, he saw his whole world differently. He had never been able to see children or waterfalls, he never saw an apple or a butterfly, he had never gazed into the sky or had seen the blazing glory of the sun; now his whole world was lit up. This is a great description of what happens to all people who are born again. Their world which was once dark is now ablaze with light. Everything is different now; church is different, the Bible is beaming with light, even our every day ordinary stuff caries a new shimmer of life. Christ has lit up our world. Here is how C.S. Lewis describes this.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

That pretty much tells the story, I now see everything else by this light that has awakened my soul. I can never look at my world in the same way that I used to, before I was feeling my way through life, now it is alive with the glory of the Lord.

That is the funny thing about being awakened from the slumber of spiritual darkness; we are blind and dysfunctional and don’t realize it. We think we are doing okay when we don’t even have a clue what real life is even like. We are stuck on survival in this physical world when the unseen world is just under our noses. Bartimaeus would never go back to those long dark days again, neither will I. He was too busy enjoying and exploring this world of light; like Bartimaeus, we live in a different world now.

HOW DO WE REALLY KNOW?

Jn.9:32,33 – “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

People always try to blame spiritual things on the devil. Everyone from Jesus to Jonathan Edwards to the present day, religious people have a very hard time with the power of God and the moving of the Spirit. In today’s story about the blind man the blind man turns the tables on the Pharisees. He came out and said it, “Isn’t it remarkable that you don’t recognize this miracle as the work of God. Since when did the devil heal blind people?”. In Edwards day the religious also resisted the move of God. Edwards said that if a manifestation of the Spirit glorified Christ and changed people for the good, it must be the Lord. Here are Edwards’ own words on this topic.

“When a Ministry raises people’s esteem of the one true Jesus Christ, who was Born of a Virgin and was Crucified — if it confirms and establishes their minds in the truth that He is the Son of God and the Savior of men — then it is a sure sign that it is from the Spirit of God. If the spirit at work among a people convinces them of Christ and leads them to Him; if it confirms their minds in the belief of the history of Christ as He appeared in the flesh; if it teaches them that He is the Son of God to save sinners; if it reveals that He is the only Savior, and that they stand in great need of Him; and if it begets in them higher and more honorable thoughts of Christ than they used to have; if it inclines their affections more to Him — that is a sure sign that it is the true and right Spirit. This is true even though we are ultimately incapable of determining whether anyone’s conviction or affections reflect real saving Faith.”

This blind man got put out of the synagogue for his belief in Christ. He apparently didn’t care. He could now see and was a follower of Jesus. Maybe you have been touched by the Lord and are being misunderstood or even criticized. You are in good company, Jesus, the man born blind, Jonathan Edwards and believers from every generation have been attacked because of spiritual awakening. I guess the question we have to answer is this, am I better off now than before?

HE TURNED THE WATER INTO WINE

John 2:11 – This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

The Lord is always turning water into wine, you just have to have eyes to see it. Everyday rain comes down from heaven, it is taken in by the roots of the grapevine, and it makes the fruit of the vine in time. In the miracle in John 2 all Jesus does is speed up the process, these signs are happening all around us everyday. Watermelons, lemons, tomatoes, zucchini; these are all the work of God that happens right under our noses. The greater miracles are also happening all around us; drug users being set free, prostitutes becoming women of God, thieves becoming ministers; redemption is happening all around us, He is always turning water into wine. Here is how Ellicott’s describes this sign.

“For him they are simply “works,” and these “works” are “signs.” He thinks of our Lord as the agent in all creation, and the source of all life; but this being so, no display of power impresses him, and no wonder startles him. All is the natural “work” of the divine worker; but like Himself, every work is also a word. It speaks to him who hath ears to hear. It is a “sign” to him who can spiritually interpret. That at His will water became wine, is as natural as that, by that will, the rain passing through earth and vine and grape should become wine.”

This sign now becomes personal, He is turning your water into wine. Empty lives find purpose, boring lives find passion, ugly lives are made beautiful. Jesus is turning your water into wine. Here is how Barclay sees it.

“When John told this story he was remembering what life with Jesus was like; and he said, “Wherever Jesus went and whenever he came into life it was like water turning into wine.” This story is John saying to us: “If you want the new exhilaration, become a follower of Jesus Christ, and there will come a change in your life which will be like water turning into wine.”

2000 years have come and gone and Jesus is still turning water into wine. I think what excites me the most is that He always saves the best for last and I get to be right in the middle of it.

VISION IN OUR HEART

Hab.2:2 – Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.

This scripture played an important role in the early days of our church. Our hearts were inflamed with a passion to see the vision of the Lord fulfilled in our city. This word vision in this passion is an important Bible word. The very nature of this word is supernatural. It is describing a prophetic vision. The Hebrew prophets were a very important part of the Old Testament jewish world. Their ability to hear from the Lord kept the people of Israel on course. Without a prophetic vision from the Lord that would “come off the rails” and end up in a bad situation. We too need to “hear from the Lord”. Today, all of us have an ability to hear from God. He speaks to our hearts by the scriptures inspired and breathed upon by the Holy Spirit. We too need to have “vision” that we can fulfill God’s plans in our lives. Here is how Dick Mills explains today’s verse.

“vision, chazon (cha-zohn); A prophetic vision, dream, oracle, revelation; especially the kind of revelation that comes through sight, namely a vision from God. This noun occurs 35 times and is from the root chazah, “to see, behold, and perceive.” Chazon is especially used for the revelation which the prophets received. The prophets understood God’s counsels so clearly because He revealed matters to them by visible means. Prov. 29:18 shows that when a society lacks any revelation from God (divine insight), such a society heads in the direction of anarchy.”

So today our spiritual vision starts with having a vision of Christ in our hearts. What do I mean by that? Having a vibrant, daily relationship with the Lord where He actually becomes real to us. Out of that “vision” of Christ comes His vision for our lives. He has a plan for each of us. He has a ministry of touching and helping people for each of us. Finding that “vision”, recording it on the tablet of our heart, is critical to having a complete life. Once we begin to allow the Spirit to write His vision on our heart it becomes part of us. Then, and then only, can we begin to run. Draw near to the Lord. Seek Him and His vision for your life. Before long, you too will find yourself on the run.

OPEN DOOR IN HEAVEN

Rev.4:1,2 – After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

There are seasons of outpouring in this life where the Lord gives us greater access to heavenly things. Many times during the outpourings in the 1990’s I would be caught up in the Spirit and have impressions of things in heaven and things about to happen on earth. This is what John was experiencing in a greater measure than any of us can even fathom. John was called to come up through an open door to experience spiritual ecstasies and understanding of things to come. Here is how John Gill describes it.

“upon the opening of the door in heaven, and hearing the former voice, and the things it said, the Spirit of God at once possessed and filled him, in an extraordinary manner; and his soul or spirit was immediately taken from the consideration of all sensible objects, and was fixed and intent upon the things presented to it in the vision, so that it was as if it was out of the body.”

John became so aware of the spiritual realities that the things of this earth just began to fade away. His first vision was of the incredible scene at the throne. This is where all revelation flows from, it comes from a revelation of Jesus Christ. Albert Barnes points this out, John was called up into these visions to receive information about things to come; it started with a revelation of Christ on the throne.

“And the first voice which I heard. That is, the first sound which he heard was a command to come up and see the glories of that world. He afterwards heard other sounds—the sounds of praise; but the first notes that fell on his ear were a direction to come up there and to receive a revelation respecting future things….And, behold, a throne was set in heaven. That is, a throne was placed there. The first thing that arrested his attention was a throne.”

There is a door opening for God’s people in these days. Draw near to Him, let Him carry you away in the Spirit to His throne. That is where you will understand things to come.

I SAW HIS GLORY

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John 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.

This passage touches on the very nature of man’s basic problem; we were all born in a state of absolute spiritual blindness. Now spiritual blindness is far worse than natural blindness. A man born physically blind or who becomes blind in this life knows that something is wrong. He knows seeing is possible, he just can’t see. The spiritually blind have a double curse, they are blind and don’t know it. This passage shows the cure, the only cure for this horrible malady. Look closely at this verse and you will see it, the first time we can see is when we see Jesus as the Eternal Word Who became a man. The Word became flesh, seeing that, seeing His glory, is where our seeing really begins. Here are some thoughts from Augustine on this amazing miracle.

“But because “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” by His very nativity he made an eye-salve to cleanse the eyes of our heart, and to enable us to see His majesty by means of His humility. Therefore “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us:” He healed our eyes; and what follows? “And we beheld His glory.” His glory can no one see unless healed by the humility of His flesh. Wherefore were we not able to see? Consider, then, dearly beloved, and see what I say. There had dashed into man’s eye, as it were, dust, earth; it had wounded the eye, and it could not see the light: that wounded eye is anointed; by earth it was wounded, and earth is applied to it for healing. For all eye-salves and medicines are derived from the earth alone. By dust thou wert blinded, and by dust thou art healed: flesh, then, had wounded thee, flesh heals thee.”

This verse can change your view of Christmas. John doesn’t tell the story of the nativity, he is struck with eternity. The angels singing, the shepherds, and the wise men are all a beautiful part of this story, but this is the very heart of the Christmas miracle. The Eternal Word took on a human body, entered into the very creation that He had formed, and lived among us. Maybe this Christmas you too can say like John, “I saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

THE SCRIPTURE AND THE POWER OF GOD

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Matt. 22:29 ¶ But Jesus answered them, You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

Lots of people know the Bible but don’t really ”know” the Bible. What do I mean by that? I guess one way to understand it is to look at the example Jesus dealt with just about every day of His life; the Pharisees. These guys had studied the scripture, and memorized most of it, all of their lives. They knew scripture in one sense, in another sense they were totally clueless. How could that be? The Bible is only grasped by spiritual revelation. Our sin blocks us from seeing Christ in the scripture. It’s that blasted love for other things that gets in the way. For the Pharisees it was political power, prestige, and pride that got in their way. Funny how religion has a way of cultivating those kinds of sins. So do you know the scriptures and the power of God the way Jesus meant or are there other loves that keep getting in your way? Here are some thoughts from John Piper on today’s verse.

“Over and over in this chapter so far, we have said, “Something had gone wrong. Terribly wrong.” The experts in Bible knowledge could not read the Bible. Why not? What kept them from doing the kind of reading Jesus expected? What we will see is that the problem was not linguistic or grammatical or historical. It was moral and spiritual. What prevented the reading that Jesus expected was not skills they lacked, but sins they loved. The problem was not mental deficiencies, but misplaced desires. Spiritual Adultery Made Reading the Bible Impossible Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). Those signs were all the deeds and actions of Jesus . These were the signs that Jesus said they could not see because they were not able to read the Scriptures. Their Bridegroom, their Messiah, had come. But they did not want him. Their desires were for something else.”
So how can this problem be fixed? The only solution is to fall in love with Jesus. It is in knowing and loving Him that the word comes alive for us. Draw near to Him, make room for Him in your life. Soon you may understand what Jesus meant when He spoke about knowing the scripture and the power of God.