For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. Luke 17:24
But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. Malachi 4:2

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Galatians 6:14
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2
Let the motto upon your whole ministry be - "Christ is All!" - Mather

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Trial Showing You Christ Is All Is Unfathomable Love!

I love the story of Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician Woman (Matthew 15:21-28).  I want to name one of my daughters "Phoenicia" after this woman!

There are at least five reasons why this woman could have walked away from Jesus in utter despair of ever being helped by Him.

1. The text says Jesus ignored her (v. 23a). Do you feel ignored by Jesus?

2. The text says the disciples urged Jesus to send her away (v. 23b). Do you feel abandoned by the One Who matters most - Jesus?

3. In the text, Jesus says He was not sent to help her (v. 24). Do you feel like God is not willing to help you, that He has abandoned you?

4. Jesus says it would not be good to help her (v. 26). Do you feel like the goodness of God restrains Him from helping you?

5. Finally, Jesus calls this woman a little dog (v. 27). Do you feel as if God is treating you harshly in your earthly circumstances?

Yet in all this, the she would not let Jesus go! She wrestled with Him by faith, and like Jacob, who wrestled with God and would not let Him go until He blessed Him, this woman wrestled with Jesus until He blessed her!

Her response to Jesus is absolutely beautiful: "And she said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.'  Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour" (Matthew 15:27-28).

Jesus has a mercy-heart, and the toughness of the test He put this woman through is even more revealing of His great love for her.

Kenneth Baily comments:  "Jesus compliments the woman by giving her a tough exam.  A good coach honors a good runner by placing her in the toughest race." (Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, 226)

Jesus put this woman's faith on display like a world champion, Olympic runner!  Oh how He loved this woman!

I realize I'm often tempted to doubt God's love when He puts me through a test, trial, or hardship.  I might cry out:  "If God loves me, why would He do this to me?!  Why would He allow this to happen?!  Why won't He answer my prayers?!  Why won't He give me what I so desperately want?!"

Yet, it is in the test that He IS loving me.  He is crushing all the idols in my heart so that Christ will truly be all in all to me.  He is a jealous lover Who will take second place to no one and no thing!

The Bible shows us that those who were most greatly loved were also those who were most greatly tested:

1.  Abraham, the very father of all the faithful, was tested to give up his most cherished, beloved son by slaughtering him on the alter of sacrifice.

2.  Job, the blameless one, was tested beyond human understanding - a testing that drove his closest companion to urge him to curse God and die.

3.  Daniel, that man who was so greatly loved of God (Dan. 9:23, 10:11, 10:19), was tested in the dreadful lions den.

4.  The Apostle Paul, the one chosen by God to write much of the New Testament and enter into the third heaven, was a man who suffered stonings, beatings, hunger, loneliness, and all manner of other hardships for the sake of Christ.

5.  Those chosen to be in the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11 were tortured, suffered mocking, flogging, chains, imprisonment, stoning, being sawn in two, killings by the sword, destitution, affliction, and mistreatment.

6.  And, most of all, the most beloved of God this universe has ever seen - the Lord Jesus Christ - He was mocked, beaten, spit upon, nailed to a cross, and suffered the most horrific punishment of any person who has ever lived by bearing the wrath of almighty God for the sins of all those who would ever repent and believe in Him!

Does your trial, affliction, sadness, or unfulfilled desire cause you to doubt God's love for you?  Don't let it.  As His child, it's a reminder of His great love for you!  You are a choice vessel of His love!  He loves you so much that He does not want you to share your love with anyone or anything else but Him.  He wants it all for Himself.  He wants Christ to be all to you, in you, for you . . . so you can share His love with others.

Spurgeon put it this way:
Frequently, when the Lord has an extraordinary mercy to send, He employs His rough and grizzled horses to drag it to our door. The smooth rivers of ease are usually navigated by little vessels filled with common commodities, but a huge ship loaded with treasure crosses deep seas . . .  
Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (John 11:5). They were three of His special favorites, and thus He sent them an extraordinary trial (John 11:1).  
When a dealer in precious gems finds a stone of minimum value, little time is spent cutting it. But when a rare diamond is found, that stone will be cut, and cut, and cut again.  
When the Lord finds a saint whom He loves much, He may spare others trial and trouble but not this one, His well-beloved. The more Jesus loves you, the more of the rod you will feel (Heb. 12:5-6). It is painful to be a favorite of heaven, but seek it and rejoice in it . . . 
You who are God's favorites must not be astonished when trials appear. Rather keep your door wide open, and when trials come say, "Welcome messenger of the King! The sound of your Master's feet is behind you. You are welcome, for my Master has sent you."
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.  Isaiah 30:18

Friday, May 25, 2012

"That's My King!" Who's The Supreme Sower, Seed, And Soil Simultaneously!

He's the supreme Sower, Seed, and Soil all at the same time!
He's the Sower who sows better and broader, longer and more lavishly, deeper and with more delight, and more effectively and everlastingly than any sower who's ever lived!
He's the Sower of sowers!
He's the only Sower Who can make the seed from nothing, plant the seed in the most fallow ground, and make it grow to produce the most amazing harvest just as He pleases!
He can make the hardest of soil soft; keep all the birds away from His seed; make the rockiest of soils harvestable; kill every thorn; and make all soil good for His own glory!
He penetrates the hardest of hearts!
He destroys all the works of the Devil!
He plants joyful roots that last forever in the face of all manner of tribulations and persecutions so that no one ever falls away!
He conquers every worldly care by carrying them on His own back so that you don't have to!
He's more precious than all the riches of 10 trillion universes!
He's the Desire of all desires and better than them all combined!
He always gets the exact harvest He wants from all His sowing efforts!
He forever, always, and only sows what is good, true, right, helpful, loving, wise, and life changing!
He sows true light into the hearts of men and women, boys and girls!
He sows joy into the heart that never goes away or diminishes but only grows more and more intense throughout all eternity!
He sows to sinners of all stripes, shapes, and sizes and to sinners of all degrees of deadness and despicableness!
And if they repent and believe in Him they shall all be saved!
He sows more bountifully than the most bountiful of the bounty!
He has a hand in the sowing of every faithful sower who's ever lived!
He sowed to the Spirit in perfect righteousness so that we might sow His Word in His name – the name above all names!
He sowed righteousness, reaped mercy, sought the LORD, and rained righteousness upon all those who would ever turn from their sin and trust in Him!
He sowed in tears like great drops of blood in His wrath bearing death, but He reaps in even greater shouts of joy over the innumerable harvest of saved souls through His resurrection from the dead!

That's My King!  Do you know Him?!

He's the Seed Who can plant Himself, fertilize Himself, water Himself, shine light on Himself, grow Himself, and bloom, flourish, and harvest Himself all by Himself!
He's the self-sufficient Seed of the universe!
He doesn't need you or me to plant Him or to do anything for Him!
But He loves us, so He uses us to spread His matchless fame and glory all around the world!
He IS the Seed of seeds!
He's the Seed of the woman Who crushed the head of the serpent!
He's the primary, predominant, prevailing Seed of Abraham through Whom all of God's promises are yes and amen!
He Himself is the Seed He sows so that if anyone hears His voice and believes in Him they shall be saved!
He's the Word made flesh Who dwelt among us Who alone can save us from God's wrath to come!
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God sowed the seed to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has sowed the seed by his Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world!
Though heaven and earth will pass away, His Seed will never pass away!
He's the preeminent grain of wheat that died and was buried in the earth for three days, but then was raised up from the grave with power in order to bear much everlasting fruit!

That's my King!

He's the Good Soil Who always heard the Word of God, always trusted the Word of God, always loved the Word of God, always obeyed the Word of God, always delighted in the Word of God Who Himself is the Word of God!
He defeated the Devil when the Devil tried to snatch up the Good Seed away from Him and use it against Him!
He never let His heart become hard but was always quick to receive the pure milk of the Word!
The Word took deep root in His heart, and He stored in up in His heart, mind, and soul so that He would never sin against God in the smallest degree!
The cares of this world never distracted Him from fulfilling His God-given mission!
The deceitfulness of riches never deceived Him because He IS the riches of this universe all in one Man!
He never desired any other thing besides perfectly doing the will of His Heavenly Father!
On the cross He was made sin, though He knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!
He was made hardness of heart toward God and crushed on that cross so that you could be forgiven of all your hardness of heart and receive a soft heart that trusts, loves, and lives for God!
His root with the Father was cut off, and His supreme joy in the Father's presence was abolished on the cross so that you would never be severed from the Father but enjoy fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore in His presence for all eternity!
He was made the cares of this world and crushed on the cross so that you could be forgiven for caring more about this world than about God!
He was made the wicked love of money on that cross so that you could be forgiven for loving money more than God!
He was made the evil desires for other things on that cross so that you could be forgiven for desiring toys, treats, sex, songs, spouses, power, pleasure and anything else that you might desire more than God Himself!
He died and spent three days and three nights in the heart of the soil but was raised up from the dead to never die again!
He bore so much fruit that if it were all written about, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written!
One day He will renew this earth with all its soil and bring into reality the new heavens and the new earth where there will be no more sin, no more pain, no more death, and no more tears!

That's my King!  That's my King!

Friday, May 18, 2012

"That's My King!" Who's My Brother Like No Other!

Unlike the first brother Cain who slaughtered his own flesh and blood in an evil rage, my Brother gave His own flesh and blood for me and was slaughtered by the righteous rage of His Father on that cross so that I might be saved!

He is His brother's keeper, and He keeps us more kept in love, righteousness, safety, joy, happiness, and satisfaction than the best keepers have ever kept anything that can be kept in all the keepable universe!

That's my brother-keeping Brother Who always keeps it all!  Do you know Him?!

Sarah lied along with Abraham and told the king that he was her brother, but we are free to tell the truth about our big Brother Jesus!  He is our true brother Who is more our Brother than anyone else ever could be, and He's the only One Who can and will protect us from all the evil of all the kings everywhere on the earth!

Jacob deceived his father Isaac and selfishly tricked his brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing.  But our Brother Jesus selflessly gave up all His blessings on that cross so that we could inherit the world and enjoy fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore with Him in paradise!

When Jacob and Esau were reconciled, Jacob was accepted by Esau, and he said that seeing his brother's face was like seeing the face of God.  When we trust in our Brother Jesus, He accepts us in Himself, no matter what we've done, and we get to gaze upon His face – the very face of God – for all eternity!

Oh there is no face like His face!  Our Brother has the face of faces!  He's the Creator of all the beautiful faces you've ever seen and all their beauty combined cannot compare with His!  If you looked upon His face with mere unglorified human eyes, your head might explode because it could not handle the witness of such breathtaking glory, grandeur, greatness, and majesty!

That's my Brother!

Joseph's wicked brothers planned to kill him, stripped him of his coat, threw him into a pit, and sold him into slavery. But Joseph forgave them all and saved their lives, even though they were unbelievably hateful toward him. Jesus is our greater Brother Joseph, Who was killed, stripped naked, suffered in the unimaginable pit of God's anger on that cross, and rose up from the grave so that, though we and the Jews and the Gentiles and Herod and Pontius Pilate and all of us meant the cross for evil, God meant it all for the everlasting good of whosoever would ever repent and believe in Him!

Moses claimed he couldn't speak well, so God gave him his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf. We have an elder Brother Who speaks on our behalf – an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, Who speaks mercy, grace, and forgiveness into our lives so that we might be saved!

He's the Big Warrior Brother Who comes to our aid when our enemies are too strong for us!

He our greatest friend Who loves at all times; He was born to overcome our greatest adversity and bring us into the Kingdom of His beloved Father; and He's the true friend from heaven Who always sticks closer than a brother!

He sanctifies us by His precious blood and He's not ashamed to call us brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

That's my Brother!  That's my Brother!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

His Plan - His Way - His Time . . . He's All

Charles Spurgeon said:
I will deliver you. (Psalm 50:15). This text is plain enough, but whether deliverance will be tomorrow, next week, or next year is not clear. You are in a great hurry, but the Lord is not. Your trial may not have produced all the good that it was sent to do, and thus it must last longer. 
When gold is thrown into the refining pot, it might cry to the goldsmith, "Let me out."
"No," says the goldsmith. "You still have dross. You must remain in the fire until I have purified you." 
God may subject you to many trials, but when He says, "I will deliver you," depend on it. God keeps His Word! . . . "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you." This is tantamount to deliverance already received. It means "If I do not deliver you now, I will deliver you at a time that is better than now." 
The Lord is always punctual. You will never be kept waiting by Him. You have kept Him waiting, but He is prompt to the second. He never keeps His servants waiting one single tick of the clock beyond His own appointed, wise, and proper moment. Therefore, be of good courage. God Himself will rescue those who call on Him . . .  
God has a motive! His thoughts are working to give you a future and a hope - Jeremiah 29:11. All things are working for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose Romans 8:28. 
We see only the beginning; God sees the end from the beginning. We spell the alphabet - alpha, beta, gamma . . . but from alpha to omega, God reads all at once. He knows every letter in the Book of Providence. He sees not only what He is doing, but also the final results. 
God sees your present pain and grief. He also sees the future joy and the usefulness that will come from this affliction. He observes not only the plow tearing the soil, but also a golden harvest clothing that soil. He sees the consequences of affliction and knows that it will lead to much blessed happiness. 
"Beloved, now are we the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be," 1 John 3:2. 
You never see the Great Artist's masterpiece. You only see the rough marble and mark the chips that fall to the ground. You have felt the edge of His chisel; you know the weight of His hammer. If you could see the glorious image as it will be when He has put the finishing blows to it, you would better understand the chisel, the hammer, and the Artist.
Charles Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, 1999), 351-352.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"That's My King!" Who's Filled With The Holy Spirit Like No Other!

He's the Clean of cleans Who's filled to over flowing with the Clean Spirit of God Himself!
The Holy Spirit of God testified to His coming over and over again throughout the Old Testament Scriptures!
Hundreds of prophecies about Him that were made hundreds of years before He was ever born all found their fulfillment in one man – the Man Christ Jesus!
His very conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary was accomplished by the Holy Spirit of God Himself!
He's the only One Who's ever lived Who has the Holy Spirit without measure!
The Spirit of the LORD was upon Him and anointed Him to preach good news to the poor!
And wherever the Spirit of the LORD is there is freedom!
Therefore, if you know Jesus Christ by faith, and He knows you, you are always free no matter how chained up you are; locked up you are; or hopeless and depressed you are – you are free indeed!
He never grieved the Spirit of the LORD, but always spoke, acted, thought, and felt what most pleased the God of the universe!

That's my King!  Do you know Him?!

The Spirit of the LORD rested upon this Man!
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding was upon Him so much so that He made Solomon look like a two year old child!
The Spirit of counsel and might indwelt Him in such a way that He made Sampson, David, and Goliath all look like cowardly men afraid of their own shadows!
He's the only One Who perfectly put to death all the deeds of the body by the power of the Holy Spirit!
He came baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire!
He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit in such a way that it had to make the happiest, gladdest, most joy filled experience of any human being in this universe look dejected, despairing, dismal, and downcast!
On that cross He gave up His spirit, endured the all consuming fury of almighty God, and bore the punishment for sin that we deserve so that all those who would ever repent and believe in Him shall be saved!
He was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead!
Because of His triumphal life, death, and resurrection, He gives His Spirit to everyone Who follows Him so that He might cause them to trust Him, obey Him, and delight in Him above all other ravishingly delightful delights in this universe!  He's the number One delight!

That's my King!  That's my King!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To Finally Die Is To Live Freely For Christ

Joseph Tson's interaction with a Romanian interrogator and his later reflections:
Tson:  "Sir, let me explain how I see this issue. Your supreme weapon is killiing. My supreme weapon is dying. Here is how it works. You know that my sermons on tape have spread all over the country. If you kill me, those sermons will be sprinkled with my blood. Everyone will know I died for my preaching. And everyone who has a tape will pick it up and say, "I’d better listen again to what this man preached, because he really meant it: he sealed it with his life." So, sir, my sermons will speak 10 times louder than before. I will actually rejoice in this supreme victory if you kill me." 
Later, Tson found out another officer said: "We know that Mr. Tson would love to be a martyr, but we are not that foolish to fulfill his wish." 
Tson reflected: "I stopped to consider the meaning of that statement. I remembered how for many years, I had been afraid of dying. I had kept a low profile. Because I wanted badly to live, I had wasted my life in inactivity. But now that I had placed my life on the altar and decided I was ready to die for the gospel, they were telling me they would not kill me! I could go wherever I wanted in the country and preach whatever I wanted, knowing I was safe. As long as I tried to save my life, I was losing it. Now that I was willing to lose it, I found it."
"As long as I tried to save my life, I was losing it. Now that I was willing to lose it, I found it."
HT: To Every Tribe Newsletter

"That's My King!" Who Forgives All Your Sins!

On the day of Jesus Christ's death on that cross, a fountain filled with blood was opened up to cleanse all His people from all their sin and uncleanness!
He was wounded for all your transgressions!
He was crushed for all your iniquities!
God laid on Him all your vile wickedness!
His soul is the the only soul that makes an effective, satisfactory offering for your great sin!
He purchased the New Covenant with His own precious blood so that God might forgive your iniquities and remember your sins no more!
He knows all the sins you've committed in the past; He knows all the sins you're committing right now; and He knows all the sins you'll commit in the future.  He knows your vilest sin; He knows your darkest sin; He knows your sin that nobody else knows about; and He knows your most cherished, loved sin!
He, even He, is the reason God blots out your transgressions and remembers your sins no more!
Though your sins were like scarlet, Jesus has made them white as snow!
Though they were red like crimson, Jesus has made them like the cleanest wool!
And if you repent and enjoy union with Christ Jesus by grace through faith, then you are forgiven for them all – past, present, future – vilest, darkest, worst – before you even know them all or fully realize the true depths of their sadness, badness, and madness!

That's my King!  Do you know Him?!

As far as the East is from the West, so God has removed your sins from you through the blood of Christ!
He has cast your sins behind His back!
He has hurled your sins into the depths of the ocean floor!
He knows more about the depths and evils of all your sins than you ever could, but He loves you and forgives you just the same!  Just the same as if you were His perfect, beloved Son in Whom He is well pleased!
Because of the amazing sacrifice of His own dear Son, God is more eager to forgive the most hardened, sin-loving sinners than they are to keep on delighting in their sin!
If God is after you through His Son by the power of His Spirit, you can't out run Him, you can't out smart Him, you can't out sin Him, you can't sin around Him – you won't get away!
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!
Oh how blessed, blessed, blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
Blessed is the one against whom the Lord counts no sin because He counted all the sins of His people as if they were the sins of His own dear Son and punished Him there on that cross!
But God raised Him up from the grave, ultimately triumphing over sin and death, so that sin will be banished forever and death will die to never live again!
One day, there will be no more sin, no more pain, no more death, and no more tears because Jesus is the great, glorious all-sin Bearer – behold Him – behold the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world!

That's my King!  That's my King!

Anything For My Heavenly Bridegroom??

Richard Wurmbrand wrote:
One of our workers was a young girl of the Underground Church. The communist police had discovered that she secretly spread Gospels and taught children about Christ. They decided to arrest her. 
But to make the arrest more agonizing and as painful as they could, they decided to delay her arrest a few weeks, until the very day she was to be married. On her wedding day the girl was dressed as a bride. The most wonderful, joyous day in a girl’s life!

Suddenly, the door was pushed open and the secret police rushed in. When the bride saw the secret police, she held out her arms towards them to be handcuffed. They roughly put the manacles on her wrists.

She looked toward her beloved, then kissed the chains and said, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this the jewel He has presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.”

She was dragged off with weeping Christians and a weeping bridegroom left behind. They knew what happens to young Christian girls in the hands of communist guards. After five years she was released – a destroyed, broken woman, looking thirty years older. Her bridegroom had waited for her. She said it was the least she could do for her Christ.
Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured For Christ (Bartlesville, OK:  Living Sacrifice Book Company, 1967), 39-40.

Tortured For The Christ Who Is All

Richard Wurmbrand wrote:
A pastor by the name of Florescu was tortured with red-hot iron pokers and with knives. He was beaten very badly. Then starving rats were driven into his cell through a large pipe. He could not sleep, but had to defend himself all the time. If he rested a moment, the rats would attack him. 
He was forced to stand for two weeks, day and night. The communists wished to compel him to betray his brethren, but he resisted steadfastly. In the end, they brought his fourteen year-old son and began to whip the boy in front of his father, saying that they would continue to beat him until the pastor said what they wished him to say. The poor man was half-mad. He bore it as long as he could. When he could not stand it any more, he cried to his son: “Alexander, I must say what they want! I can’t bear your beating any more!” 
The son answered, “Father, don’t do me the injustice to have a traitor as a parent. Withstand! If they kill me, I will die with the words, ‘Jesus and my fatherland.’” 
The communists, enraged, fell upon the child and beat him to death, with blood spattered over the walls of the cell. He died praising God. Our dear brother Florescu was never the same after seeing this . . . 
Christians were put in ice-box “refrigerator cells” which were so cold, frost and ice covered the inside. I was thrown into one with very little clothing on. Prison doctors would watch through an opening until they saw symptoms of freezing to death, then they would give a warning and guards would rush in to take us out and make us warm. When we were finally warmed, we would immediately be put back in the ice-box cells to freeze-over and over again!  Thawing out, then freezing to within just one minute or two of death, then being thawed out again.  It continued endlessly. Even today sometimes I can't bear to open a refrigerator. 
Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured For Christ (Bartlesville, OK:  Living Sacrifice Book Company, 1967), 36-37.