UNDER HIS WINGS

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.

David knew about danger and he found out about divine protection. In David’s life he had escaped from the paw of a lion and a bear, managed to escape the sword of Goliath and the spear of King Saul. He had also stared down armies of Philistine enemies. He knew it was more than his cunning and skillful fighting or just good luck that kept him from being captured. His talent or good fortune could not begin to describe David’s knack at overcoming and escaping from danger. David said that his protection was supernatural. One of the secret places that David hid himself in was the cave of Adullam. In David’s mind this cave was just a picture of his true hiding place. He believed he was literally hidden away in God’s presence. After David became king he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. It was in worshipping before the ark that David explored the glory of God’s presence. This ark was characterized by the covering wings of the angels. These are the wings David spoke of when he said he was hidden under God’s wings. Here is how Spurgeon describes David and his supernatural protections.

“Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge. Not in the cave alone would he hide, but in the cleft of the Rock of ages. As the little birds find ample shelter beneath the parental wing, even so would the fugitive place himself beneath the secure protection of the divine power. The emblem is delightfully familiar and suggestive. May we all experimentally know its meaning. When we cannot see the sunshine of God’s face, it is blessed to cower down beneath the shadow of his wings. Until these calamities be overpast. Evil will pass away, and the eternal wings will abide over us till then. Blessed be God, our calamities are matters of time, but our safety is a matter of eternity. When we are under the divine shadow, the passing over of trouble cannot harm us; the hawk flies across the sky, but this is no evil to the chicks when they are safely nestling beneath the hen.”

Worship brings us into an awareness of the presence of the Lord. One of the great blessings we find there is protection from our enemies. David longed for that secret place. For those that find that place it becomes more than a place of protection but a way to live our lives.

CREATION IS SPEAKING

Ps.19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

It is so easy in our high tech and video controlled world to lose the sense of the majesty of God we were created to enjoy. We spend most of our time indoors looking at computer screens or flat screens soaking in lifeless images and information. We live in an amazing world that is chattering and singing continuously the amazing attributes of our creator. Have you ever seen a cheetah in the wild running with all its might? Or maybe even a horse galloping with joy across a field? What about monkeys swinging from a tree or dolphins leaping for joy?Are all of these creatures random accidents displaying the good fortune of genetic luck through natural selection? All of these creatures carry within them the beauty of their maker. They exist to display God’s attributes, they are preaching a powerful revelation as they go about their daily activities. Here is a portion from Jonathan Edwards on the purpose of God’s creatures.

“So that when we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity. So the green trees and fields, and singing of birds, are the emanations of his infinite joy and benignity; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines [are] shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and murmuring streams have the footsteps of his sweet grace and bounty. When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous bow, we behold the adumbrations of his glory and goodness; and the blue skies, of his mildness and gentleness. There are also many things wherein we may behold his awful majesty: in the sun in his strength, in comets, in thunder, in the towering thunder clouds, in ragged rocks and the brows of mountains. That beauteous light with which the world is filled in a clear day is a lively shadow of his spotless holiness and happiness, and delight in communicating himself.”

Then we come to man. We are the only creature with the capacity of actually seeing God’s glory in creation. That can happen only when our eyes, blinded by sin, are opened by His grace. Like blind Bartimaeus of old, when our eyes are opened we can finally see the face of God.

SHALL NOT WANT

Ps.23:1 – The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The world lives in a state of want. Enough is never enough. Billionaires never seem to have enough money, fashionistas never have enough clothes, collectors never have enough stuff. You get the picture, something inside of humans is always wanting. It has to do with the created in the image of God thing. We were created to lean and depend on Him for everything. In our present fallen condition that just doesn’t seem to be working. There is never enough stuff because stuff is not what we need. Our need is supernatural. In other words only God will do. Only when you are made new by the Spirit and become a sheep of His pasture will the wanting stop. When Christ is your shepherd, you can say with David “I shall not want” Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this.

“I might want otherwise, but when the Lord is my Shepherd he is able to supply my needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love, and therefore “I shall not want.” I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve?…..Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may want, but “I shall not.” “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is not only “I do not want,” but “I shall not want.” Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, “I shall not want.” Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack, and even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because “The Lord is my shepherd.”

He satisfies us completely and supplies for us continuously. The world’s markets may crumble, but I shall not want. There could even be droughts and famines but there are ravens and widows set aside for His sheep. If you are His child you can say with David “I shall not want”. No matter what circumstances face you, the Lord is your Shepherd.

HEART TEARS

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:37

What a picture of redemption! It shows how much our emotions are to overflow toward our Savior! When He walks into the room do we treat him as ordinary? Or even better when our brothers and sisters come for a visit! My oh my how many times did I turn my head away! Some historians say that this woman was no stranger in this Pharisees house. We of course don’t know but everyone seems to know what her occupation was! It was also indicated that she had an encounter with Jesus earlier and came to this house to give thanks. Whatever the case is, her encounter was timely and newsworthy. Her life was turned upside down and instead of using her precious oil on men, she poured out her life onto Christ. All the feelings inside of her became white as fullers soap and she knew the old ways were finished. Her repentance filled the washbowl and poured over! The same hair that she used on others she used for the Son of God. The Pharisee on the other hand showed no common courtesy to Christ because he thought he was just another fixture in the room. In fact it sounds like he didn’t show any attention to Jesus at all. But this woman begin to cry and cry and kiss his feet over and again using her hair as a towel and wiping away the oil and the tears. We will call them heart tears! What a spectacle she must have been in the room! To those that know where they have been and know where they are, they have no trouble being a spectacle all the days of their lives. The alabaster box of devotion breaks out in all of us. We give him back what was meant for him in the first place. We can never diminish the guilt of sin and the amount of grace that it took to free us from it!

Christ turns to the annoyed Pharisee and demands him to “look at the woman”! Christ chides him by saying, ‘You gave Me no water for My feet; but she has washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.'” What a changing of places there is now! The Lord has made the first to be last and the last to be first! Simon the Pharisee thought himself far more advanced than this woman. Where are your heart tears?

THE GREATNESS OF MARY’S SON

Lk.1:31,32 – And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,

This young teenager had to be totally overwhelmed by the events that day. First, angelic visitation? How could she deal with that? Then she hears that she would have a baby as a virgin! Unthinkable! Next, she would become pregnant before her marriage? Scandalous! To top things off, the most amazing news of all. This child would be great, the very Son of God. Hear is how Adam Clarke explains the greatness of Mary’s Son.

“He shall be great. Behold the greatness of the man Christ Jesus: 1st. Because that human nature that should be born of the virgin was to be united with the Divine nature. 2dly. In consequence of this, that human nature should be called in a peculiar sense the SON of the most high God; because God would produce it in her womb without the intervention of man. 3. He shall be the everlasting Head and Sovereign of his Church. 4thly. His government and kingdom shall be eternal. Revolutions may destroy the kingdoms of the earth, but the powers and gates of hell and death shall never be able to destroy or injure the kingdom of Christ. His is the only dominion that shall never have an end.The kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory form the endless government of Christ.”

Clarke shares four reasons for the greatness of Mary’s Son. First, He would be fully man and fully God at the same time. This has offended everyone from the Pharisees to the modern day Muslims. This is truly the mystery of God; God Himself clothed as a human. Secondly, the most unimaginable concept, He would be born of a virgin. This is impossible without the direct intervention of God Himself. That is exactly what happened, Mary conceived in her womb through the power of the Holy Spirit. Next, He would be the head of His church. Today, He is known as our chief Shepherd, He leads His church in all nations. Finally, His kingdom will last forever; it is not like any other kingdom. His kingdom is not something that can be seen with human eyes. It does not consist of buildings or organizations. His kingdom is the secret, unseen kingdom characterized by righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

MARY’S SONG

Lk.1:46,47 – And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior”.

Mary is describing supernatural utterance as she begins this prophetic song. She says ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’. This is exactly how Luke describes the supernatural utterance in tongues when describing what happened to the gentiles in Cornelius’s house. He said that the Jewish believers were shocked when they heard the gentiles speak in tongues and magnify God. This is how Luke described it, Acts 10:46,47 – “And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God”. The prayer language is a vocal, supernatural language declaring the magnificence of the Lord. Mary was so full of God that she too broke out in a prophetic song magnifying the Lord. This is how Adam Clarke describes Mary’s song.

“This is the only way in which God can be magnified, or made great; for, strictly speaking, nothing can be added to God, for he is infinite and eternal; therefore the way to magnify him is to show forth and celebrate those acts in which he has manifested his greatness.”

Mary’s prophetic song is an example of how people respond when they are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The prayer language and the gift of prophesy is how we pour out this blessing. Mary was a picture of the church about to be birthed through the ministry of her Son. Her angelic visitation and the overshadowing with the Holy Spirit marked her for the rest of her life. She was totally consumed, inside and outside, with the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit. Here is Clarke speaking about Mary being filled with God.

“My spirit hath rejoiced. Exulted. These words are uncommonly emphatical, they show that Mary’s whole soul was filled with the Divine influence, and wrapped up in God.”

This would not be the last encounter Mary would have with the mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, Luke lists Mary as being in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon everyone in the room. He said that everyone there spoke in other tongues. Here again we see Mary magnifying the Lord with her Spirit songs. The good news for us, we can all be overshadowed with the Holy Spirit and pour out our hearts in prophetic songs.

THE SHEPHERD’S PSALM – PART 3

Ps.23:5,6 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Forever

If the Lord is my Shepherd and my friend, I have peace no matter what enemies I may face. Actually, I can sit down and feast at the table of the Lord when all of hell is banging at my door. Here is how SPURGEON describes feasting when under attack.

“When a soldier is in the presence of his enemies, if he eats at all, he snatches a hasty meal, and away he hastens to the fight. But observe: “Thou preparest a table,” just as a servant does when she unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance; the enemy is at the door, and yet, God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. Oh! the peace which Jehovah gives to his people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances.”

What is our feast? It is God Himself. What a better meal, we feast on His body and drink His blood.

He anoints my head with oil. The anointing is everything to me. David had experienced the anointing as a child. It was His secret to conquering the giant, defeating the Philistines, writing the Psalms, and leading Israel to a time of peace. It is impossible to understand David without the anointing. It is equally impossible to live a Christian life without His presence upon me. Because of His anointing my cup is running over. This anointing not only empowers us, it satisfies us completely. He is my portion, my cup is flowing over.

His goodness and mercy are my portion. He not only does good things for me, as Jonathan Edwards often said, “He is my good”. He is goodness and His goodness is my portion. His mercies are with me everyday. If His goodness supplies my needs, then His mercies blot out all of my sins.

So this is my life. I find all of this, all of the blessings of the Shepherd, in the house of God. The Shepherd abides in this house; this is where I will live all the days of my life.

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD – PART 2

PS.23:3,4 – He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me

The Lord is my Shepherd and my best friend. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me besides the still waters of rest. This is the place of renewal and restoration for my soul. Life can be quite exhausting. Walking in this intimate friendship and learning to rest and abide in Him brings me to a place of renewal and restoration. We don’t have to wait until we are in a state of exhaustion to come to these waters of renewal, if the Lord is my Shepherd, renewal becomes my way of life.

The Shepherd leads us into His paths of righteousness. We are no longer walking in lock step with the culture of the world. We have entered into a new way of life, walking in the steps of our Shepherd. Here are some thoughts from the Passion Translation notes on this verse. “Or “circular paths of righteousness.” It is a common trait for sheep on the hillsides of Israel to circle their way up higher. They eventually form a path that keeps leading them higher. This is what David is referring to here. Each step we take following our Shepherd will lead us higher, even though it may seem we are going in circles.” We are walking in this new way of life, this life becomes our testimony or the testimony of Jesus living in us. Our new life is for “His name’s sake”, it is no longer us but Christ living His new life in us.

Even when this path of following Jesus leads us into difficult times, we are not afraid. He is with us when walking into death’s shadows. His rod and His staff remind me of His authority and His protection. Following His leadership is my place of safety and protection. I may not always understand why He leads me in a certain direction, but I trust my friend. Wherever He leads me, He protects and takes care of me. Why Should I fear any kind of evil? If the Lord who died for me is my Shepherd, no enemy can touch me.

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD – Part 1

Ps.23:1-2 – The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

This may be the most known passage in all scripture, Psalm 23. This is the passage Jesus was referring to in John 10 when He refered to Himself as the Good Shepherd. Today I want to take another look and drink deeply from this Psalm.

The Lord is my Shepherd. The Passion Bible has an interesting observation in this first verse. It says that the Lord is my Shepherd and my best friend. This is a footnote from the Passion Translation, “The word most commonly used for “shepherd” is taken from the root word ra‘ah, which is also the Hebrew word for “best friend.” So what is David’s point in the beginning of His famous Shepherd’s Psalm? Knowing Christ intimately is everything. This is the beginning of our Christian life. The Lord is my Shepherd and my closest friend. I am one of His sheep and I hear His voice.

The results of this friendship? I shall not want. He not only provides for my daily needs, He also satisfies the longing of my heart. He is my greatest need. He is my treasure and my portion in life. This is the key to freedom from addictions and sinful behavior; the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Next David says He makes me to lie down. When the Lord is my Shepherd I can begin to enter into a place of rest. Rather than always doing, I begin to practice a lifestyle of receiving. If the Lord is my best friend and Shepherd, I can rest in Him, He has me covered. This resting is connected to two powerful provisions. First, He makes me lie down in green pastures. What are these pastures for a sheep? Green grass, all I could ever eat. For the Christian this grass is the written word of God. We can take our daily rest feasting on the green grass of God’s promises, this is rest for our soul. Next, He leads me beside still waters. These are the waters of rest and peace, the living water of the Holy Spirit. I can lay me down in His presence and find rest and renewal for my soul. This is our place of renewal, this is my place of rest.

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.