"Lord, grant thine unworthy one his desire, for I am thine, and thou hast bought me with thy blood. Thou hast opened mine eye to see thee, and the sight has saved me. Lord, open thou mine ear. I have read thy heart, now let me hear thy lips."
Charles H. Spurgeon
Morning & Evening
“It was as a Bridegroom Christ came, anointed with all the perfumes of a dedicated love, and until the last bitter hour of His rejection, He moved with such lyric joyousness across the earth, that life became festive in His presence. It is as a Bride the church exists on earth, and if no festive smiles are awakened by its presence, and no gracious unsealing of the founts of love in human hearts, then is it not Christ’s Church, for He has passed elsewhere with another company to the marriage-feast, and His Church stands without, before a barred and darkened door.”
The Empire of Love
Salvation comes not by “accepting the finished work” or “deciding for Christ.” It comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole, living, victorious Lord who, as God and man, fought our fight and won it, accepted our debt as His own and paid it, took our sins and died under them and rose again to set us free. This is the true Christ, and nothing less will do…
The argument of the apostles is that the Man Jesus has been made higher than angels, higher than Moses and Aaron, higher than any creature in earth or heaven. And this exalted position He attained as a man. As God He already stood infinitely above all other beings. No argument was needed to prove the transcendence of the Godhead. The apostles were not declaring the preeminence of God, which would have been superfluous, but of a man, which was necessary.
Those first Christians believed that Jesus of Nazareth, a man they knew, had been raised to a position of Lordship over the universe. He was still their friend, still one of them, but had left them for a while to appear in the presence of God on their behalf. And the proof of this was the presence of the Holy Spirit among them.
One cause of our moral weakness today is an inadequate Christology. We think of Christ as God but fail to conceive of Him as a man glorified. To recapture the power of the Early Church we must believe what they believed. And they believed they had a God-approved man representing them in heaven.
Man: The Dwelling Place of God
“When the Sanhedrin saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Our lives will be remarkable to the degree we have been with Jesus; to the measure with which we’re filled up with the Holy Spirit. It does tend to astonish when the hand of a Man, thought to be long-dead, reaches out through us; when His Spirit animates an unconquerable twinkling in our eyes.
The Holy Spirit knows what Jesus wants you to do next. Listening to the voice of the Spirit, within you, is the same thing as sitting next to Jesus, upon the Throne, and asking Him: “What should I do?”
The Holy Spirit is His voice; His answer.
A lovely, simple prayer:
“Thy holy life is our way, and your adorable patience the road by which we must approach Thee.”
Those of the Kingdom of Heaven are everywhere and nowhere: their only conspicuousness is atmospheric; they are otherwise totally hidden. They do good deeds because the Christ within them does them; they feel embarrassed whenever the eyes of men see them. Their works are so synonymous with their enjoyment of abiding in Jesus that they’re surprised at the work their life accomplishes. Their only reward has been the good pleasure of His presence. And that has always been enough for them.
Those of the Kingdom of Heaven are constantly communicating with its King: they are thinking their best and highest thoughts directly to Him. They love to stand and pray, to sit and pray, to drive and pray, to rest and pray, to work and pray: they live in prayer. Their inner life is their cathedral: they meet together with Jesus in its sanctuary, its apses, its towers, its belfries. Unembarrassed, they acknowledge their reliance on His delight; they delight to talk to Him, to hear from Him, as such:
As their perfect Lord, their Heavenly Father, infinitely far removed in the splendors of the Throneroom, who is yet with them;
As the King of a Kingdom with verifiable work to do; whose will is the Father’s; whose climate is of Heaven;
As the Provider-God;
The One who perfectly modeled perfect, personal forgiveness;
As the Shepherd of His sheep; as the Protector from all evil; as the Lord of all Heaven, all power, all glory.
Those of the Kingdom of Heaven are happiest when hungriest: they are satisfied with a sating only offered to them by His hand. They find their joy in eating and drinking of Him. That is their secret. He has become their only diet. (from Mt. 6:1-13, 16-18)
“The gospel is not the presentation of an idea but the operation of a power. When the gospel is preached, it is not merely an utterance; it is something that occurs.”
Commentary on Romans
Then about an hour later someone else insisted, “I am convinced this fellow was with him. Why, he is a Galilean!” “Man,” returned Peter, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crew. The Lord turned his head and looked straight at Peter, and into his mind flashed the words that the Lord had said to him ... “You will disown me three times before the cock crows today.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:59-62)
* * *
When they had finished breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others?" "Yes, Lord," he replied, "you know that I am your friend." "Then feed my lambs," returned Jesus. Then he said for the second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" "Yes, Lord," returned Peter. "You know that I am your friend." "Then care for my sheep," replied Jesus. Then for the third time, Jesus spoke to him and said, "Simon, son of John, are you my friend?" Peter was deeply hurt because Jesus' third question to him was "Are you my friend?", and he said, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I am your friend!" "Then feed my sheep," Jesus said to him. (John 21:15-18)
* * *
"…Christ’s life is the only instance in which it is seen that a teacher, in the moment his cause together with his life is lost and everything is forfeited in the most appalling way because of the denial by his disciple—that a teacher by his glance wins in this very moment and in this disciple wins his most zealous follower and thus in great part wins his cause, although it is hidden to all.
" Christ’s love for Peter was so boundless that in loving Peter he accomplished loving the person one sees. He did not say, “Peter must change first and become another man before I can love him again.” No, just the opposite, he said, “Peter is Peter, and I love him; love, if anything, will help him to become another man.” Therefore he did not break off the friendship in order perhaps to renew it again when Peter had become another man. No, he preserved the friendship unchanged and in this very way helped Peter to become another man."
Works of Love
“There is no such thing as mature and assured possession of faith: regarded psychologically, it is always a leap into the darkness of the unknown, a flight into empty air. Faith is not revealed to us by flesh and blood (Matt. xvi. 17): no one can communicate it to himself or to any one else. What I heard yesterday I must hear again to-day; and if I am to hear it afresh to-morrow, it must be revealed by the Father of Jesus, who is in heaven, and by Him only.”
The Epistle to the Romans
Others’ experience of the atmosphere of the life and love of Jesus will almost always begin with an experience of our undivided attention. Jesus was where He was; now He is where we are: today is the scene and setting for His usage of us to get to others.
Remember: These other people matter to Him.
12 Never forget your Savior in any day of your earthly life, for the days are His and of them is made a life which is meant to express His good pleasure; as the sun rises and sets, as the moon and stars shine in their nighttime courses, you are living out the hours in which to encounter Him, know Him, show Him to the world; when you cross your threshold—going out into the world, everywhere, as His personal envoy—your life is meant to sing of His life like a springtime bird sings its anthem. So be joyous that the Holy One has called you to His side, to His Way; has made His home within you; His Cross has freed you forever: you may move through life with head held high, peace and joy your reality, because all your life is on its way Home—death is nothing to you; the days are places of rich personal encounter with Him; He will provide for your needs; and, again, all of this can only end with you in His presence forever. Glorious meaning of all meanings! says this disciple; all in Jesus is glorious meaning!
I am a person just like you, seeking to learn from life, and have weighed, considered and tested many of the wisdoms that the world offers to man. I have tried its forms of delight, and sought to better myself with the “truths” it upholds as eternal; fixed.
The ways of the earth are like “shifting shadows,” like paths leading everywhere and yet nowhere; its wisdoms as diffuse as the sons of men. Brothers and sisters, there is only one Way. To know Jesus is an endless source of wonder, and everything you give in His direction is toward an infinite gain.
The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, life and life eternal: all of these are Jesus. Abide in Him and obey His voice, for this is the joy of His disciples. He Himself will show you how to follow Him—He will reveal His hidden wisdoms—for He is good.
11 Cast your cares upon the One who is the Bread of Life,
for He is the meaning of our days.
Give yourself to Him every day of every week,
for you know not their meaning; and He does.
He “sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,”
and empties His mercy even upon the unmerciful;
He took the curse for all by hanging upon a tree--
in that place where the tree stood, all is already finished.
Let us listen for the winding winds of the Spirit,
and regard well the ways of the Way of Jesus.
Since we know that the Spirit comes from Jesus and the Father, so we know the way to know the work He means us to do.
Each morning meet Him; every evening consider your day together; for you know that what is in Him will prosper, no matter what, and that a day with Him is always for your good.
His light is life, and it pleasant for the eyes of our heart to regard the Son.
No matter the length of your life, “this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And remember: each day is suited to the experience of His presence; every day may find its meaning and purpose in pursuit of Him.
Brothers and sisters, let us rejoice! May our hearts be full of His joy today! Let us walk in His ways with our eyes firmly fixed on Him! For we know that we’ve been set free of judgment: you and I are free!
Today, I set aside all anxiety, distrust and unbelief; I take up your joy and peace; I embrace your plans and purposes. All in you, Jesus, is wonder and glory. Amen.
10 Abundant joy makes the human heart open outward;
so a little of His joy in us must lead the way, always.
The wisdom of Jesus leads us along His Way;
the wisdom of man is nothing.
When we walk His Way in wisdom, we gain more,
and then may say to ourselves, “We lack for nothing.”
If the pleasure of the King is upon us, let us abide in Him,
for He promises to add blessing unto blessing.
There is a great glory that I have seen because of the Son, another triumph arising from this King of Kings: advancement is set in low, humble hearts, and the poor in spirit inherit the Kingdom alongside Him. Truly, I have seen the lowest raised up in Him, and the rulers of the ways of man quickly forgotten.
He who descended to us has also ascended,
and the serpent has been crushed under His feet forever.
He is shaping us as stones to be set in His Temple,
this glorious Cornerstone who holds all things together.
If we are weak, it is He Himself who strengthens us,
arming us with His own strength,
and the wisdom to carry it aright.
If the evil one attacks one of His chosen,
He gives every advantage, by His Spirit, to that chosen one.
The whisper of His lips is there within our inner ear;
we may cease to trust our own ruminations.
Today, we may begin—and end—with His words alone,
for His mercies are new; His words, fresh and alive.
Our wise King is clear of speech,
and though we oft’ are slow to hear, slow to understand,
He is forever faithful, speaking to us from the Throne of Heaven.
Our work for Him exalts our life’s meaning,
for it leads others, upward, toward the City of God.
Blessed are we, brothers and sisters, for our King is the Son of God,
and He has made us sons and daughters of God too!
Happy are we, brothers and sisters, because this King is our Friend,
and He invites us to the Family Table,
for daily communion: union with Himself!
Through abiding in Him the union ever grows;
each day may play its part in the growth.
He is the Bread of Life: our joy;
the New Wine: our Spirit,
our greatest riches: the Kingdom Himself.
Even as you fall asleep, bless the King of Kings;
in your rising, lift up His name;
for the Spirit that is in you is also in Him;
no blessing you speak of Him is ever lost, ever forgotten.
9 May we take all this to heart, appropriating what is ours, and thus show the world His righteousness and wisdom, and the wonder of His works. Whether we are loved or hated, it doesn’t matter; all must see Jesus. And our hope is the same for everyone, especially since it already happened with us: that every man and woman, whether good or evil, interested or disinterested, spiritual or not-seeking, would see Him; that His goodness to the sinner—His covenant with the lost—would become known. This is the glory of all the Son has already done: anyone may hear, repent and believe. So, our call is to show the difference in our hearts, and the joy and peace He brings, and to live once again His earthly life. For we who know the Living One have an everlasting hope; a Resurrected Savior is everything in the midst of a dying world. For all men and women are clearly destined to die, all life is tinged with death, and what a strange experience it is to live forever within its shadow. Is death the only outcome of our destiny? Can there be anything else? For to watch the course of history is only to see the stories of our loves, hates, passions and sinfulnesses, all eventually disappearing into the darkness of death. This was always the way of man before the Son.
But, now, there is joy and peace, the New Wine of His Spirit, the ever-present experience of the ever-present God!
Now there is holy blamelessness as our portion! And the oil of joy, poured over our heads!
Now there is love never-ending, every single day of the remainder of our earthly lives, all because of who Jesus is, what He has said, what He has done, and what is forever “finished!” And what He has given us to do, working with His strength, is the very work and words and signs and wonders that He Himself did, while walking the earth!
Again, I say to you that, because of the Son, we have already won “an overwhelming victory,” not due to our strength, or intelligence, or spirituality, or goodness, but all due to He Himself. It is He who holds our lives in His hands. He came to sweep us up in His arms, to hold us close to Himself, so that the sons of men might become the sons of God. And all this is already accomplished.
I would also repeat that He Himself is our wisdom, and there is no end to Him. He is our refuge: a place where we may run and always find His comfort. Whether rich or poor, wise or foolish, He calls us ever nearer to be delivered of our every trouble. Brothers and sisters, let us remember His living, alive presence! For I remind you that His “love is better than life,” and that His steady wisdom, joy and peace are our eternal inheritance.
Too, He never stops speaking to His children. How much better to walk with One who is ever ready to whisper to our hearts than to constantly listen to the shouts and clamorings of this world. His wisdom is better than anything it offers, and one word from Him is worth anything it costs us to hear it; to take it to heart.
8 Who looks like Jesus?
He who interprets all his existence through Him.
Daily experience of Jesus alters the outward countenance,
and His wondrous joy becomes our inner and outer life.
I remind you: Follow our King’s words and Way, because of the New Covenant He has set with our Father. Be ever in His presence; never outside. Take the positions He Himself took in this world; never others. For the Way of our King is magnificent and unassailable, and none are those who can honestly say of it, “This is not the highest.” Each of us who keeps upon it, walking its straight narrowness, finds it daily to be life, and its footfalls to be the path unto wisdom and righteousness. For it is sweeping in its breadth of experience, because it is the living Way of a Man who Himself lived through all earthly trials. For He tasted every part of our existence; who can say that Jesus doesn’t understand us? No other has ever perfectly walked in obedience, guided perfectly by the Spirit of God, all the way to the point of dying a willed death. There was no shirking it: He died to free all people of their wickedness; to deliver mankind from the “vicious circle of sin and death.” (All this we know, of course, but what I’m endeavoring to do is draw these truths a little lower: all the way down from your head to your heart. I want to see you knowing these things, not knowing about them.)
Too, the Righteous One was buried for us. He who’d freely walked the earth, going in and out of towns, villages, synagogues, homes, was truly dead and gone. This was part of His most glorious glory. Because the sentence hanging over our heads—the penalty due for all who’d engaged in sin—involved our dying, He both died for us and was dead for us. And though a world of sinners continues on with their lives, we know the truth: it may be instantly well if they will only hear, turn, repent and believe. Yes, all mankind—from the saintliest earthly saint to the vilest wicked man or woman—is only a repentant half-turn away from the face of salvation. The Cross and Tomb are both right here: available.
This is the meaning of our heavenly-earthly lives upon this earth, that each of us is meant to live out His righteousness, in His love and mercy, so that all people, everywhere, can sense the goodness of His righteousness, love and mercy. I tell you, this is a wondrous purpose! And He has given us His own peace and joy, for all people need to see His heavenly attributes lived in regular human lives, just like ours. These attributes will always linger long after we leave them; His Way with them begins as they see Heaven’s ways right in their midst.
And as we give ourselves to knowing Jesus, and to carrying out His work upon the earth—hindered by nothing because He is limitlessly powerful—we will get to see the wonders of God in our day, and that there are no things impossible because of the Son and His Spirit. Indeed, the more we seek Him out, the more we find of Him. Even the simplest person can find untold riches of wisdom by simply seeking Jesus.
7 His Name is higher than any other name,
and the day of His death is our life.
Better is one moment of experiencing His presence,
than a whole human life of earthly pleasures,
for such pleasures fleet, luck fails, riches fade,
and all earthly life will ever end for all.
His love is better than life,
for by His love we enter into life eternal.
That love dwells in our midst by His Spirit,
and the heart of the wise seeks a more complete possession.
Better to hear the whisper of His voice
than to hear the praise of men.
For as the west wind soughs the pine boughs--
lovely, haunting—so He whispers on:
we have heard His voice.
Surely His goodness compels us onward,
and His joy fills our hearts.
Better are His purposes than all of our schemes and plans;
to be poor in spirit is to inherit a Heavenly Kingdom entire.
May you be swift of spirit to run to Him,
for life and love dwell where He dwells.
Say to yourself, “A day with Him is a day of life.”
For it is wisdom to wed your days with His.
His wisdom, too, is part of our inheritance,
a joyous good to those who seek the Son.
Such wisdom is like a rampart around our ways;
its advantages innumerable; for it is a wisdom that walks around with us.
Consider the living work of Jesus:
He can bring us through the straight and narrow--which is Himself.
Whether in riches or want, be joyful with His joy, and always remember: the Lord Jesus is with you on the Way; He is intimately aware of both your circumstances and His plan within them. In His life and death we see everything we need to know. For there was a Righteous Man who died for us to impart to us His righteousness, and wicked men may now come to Him to receive His own everlasting life. We may now walk within His righteousness and perfect wisdom. What more could we ask? Let us learn to walk His Way with Him, never away. Why would we waste our lives walking any other direction? For it is life for us to take hold of Him, and to hold nothing back from Him: the one who walks with Jesus finds life in every step.
Jesus gives wisdom to women and men; He is strength and joy to us.
He is the only Righteous Man who has ever walked the earth: let us be His!
Take to heart His words; let your heart be filled with His voice. Thus will you know the ways of the Way and be blessed in all that you do.
All this is the promise of Jesus. He said, “I will make my home within you,” and He is always that near. That which He has done is ever near to us, right within our hearts; His Spirit within us searches it out.
May we turn our hearts to know Him and to seek and find His ways, His wisdom, and the purpose behind His life in us; for to find out more of Him is to find the life of Heaven within: the purpose behind all things. And there is something even still more sweet: men and women who find Him find the nearest, best Friend. It is His good pleasure to run with us, to delight in us, and to make a sinner a saint is His highest joy. Look! this is what we see in the lives of the disciples during the remainder of course of their days—you can see it in the Gospels and Acts. He had chosen them out of the endless crowds of mankind; they were exactly the ones He needed for His purposes. See the way their lives went with Him, how He worked to make them holy, and you’ll see the way His plan yet works.
6 There is a joyous good that I have seen because of the Son, and it may be enjoyed by everyone: any man or woman to whom God gives Himself, so that they lack nothing, either spiritually or temporally, is also given the calling, and opportunity, to pass it on, even to a complete stranger. This is a marvelous thing for any disciple of His to do; it is a great miracle. If that man or woman lives seventy or eighty years, and continually shares the joy of Christ with others, just think of the brothers and sisters they will escort into the Kingdom of Heaven! What a joy! What purpose! For he or she “did not choose Jesus, but He chose them, and appointed them, that they might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” And here they are: knowing the Son themselves, finding rest in Him, and then extending the realm of the Kingdom during the span of their days. Even if their own life should be cut short, they may enjoy this glory today—changing the eternal life of another!
Every deed done for Jesus is of eternity; we may abide in Him, seek His Way, and always find our daily meaning. Every spiritual and earthly joy is already ours in Him! Whether rich or poor, the rule of life—the Way—is the same. So, how much better to fix our eyes upon the things that interested Him, to follow in His footsteps, than to give ourselves to the passing fancies of a dying age. We know the One on the other side of reality!
Indeed, He knows our every breath, He has numbered the hairs on our head, He has counted the course of our days; He knows exactly what we are—and loves us yet. The more of Him we receive, the greater glory; the higher advantage. For He knows precisely what is good for each one of us, having Himself lived this human life: He will teach us to live our lives like He did. Under the Son, we may rise to each new day and live it to the full.
5 Pay close attention to your life, for you are the Temple of God now. Others may draw near to Him by drawing near to you: you are the place where they may hear of Him; even hear from His voice. Therefore, be careful with your words, and let Him use your lips to speak of His glories, so that all on earth may be acquainted with His life in Heaven. Let your own words be few. For your best words are those from His Spirit, and your own voice—let’s be honest—has a way of sometimes getting in the way.
Where you’ve received a promise from the Lord, do not hesitate to trust Him, for He is ever faithful to make good on His every promise. He always does what He says He’ll do. Your life will be richer and better if you trust in Him with quiet confidence, and wait upon Him. Don’t doubt the wild ways He works, and don’t give in to that nagging question inside, But what’s taking Him so long? Be honest: His record with you is one of constant care, presence and blessing. Where your trust in Him is given room for increase, consider it a blessing; God is entrusting you with the opportunity to trust Him more.
Where you see examples of struggle, hurt and anxiety in the world around you, anguish amidst the depredations of sin, you are called not to judge but to go to work; for the God of all men has chosen you and I to be His ambassadors: we are the Body of Christ--we are Jesus!--for the men and women of our day, our time. This is our privilege: this is how highly our King thinks of us.
“The secret of never thirsting is ever thirsting”: he who always wants more of Jesus won’t be satisfied with yesterday’s experience of Him: he will always desire for more. Where encounter with His living presence increases, hunger is both sated and enlarged, and this is nothing but a glorious spiritual advantage. Our rest is only found in Him, whether we know Him a little or a lot, and the greater the experience of Him, the richer our rest in Him.
Here is another wondrous glory that I have experienced for myself: the splendors of the Kingdom of Heaven are meant by Him to be shared with us, and their riches seem to increase as we share them out with others. This is the nature of this Father with His sons and daughters; everything we have comes from His hand. As we were first born of Him, brought along through life through Him, redeemed from death by Him, we now find our whole life in Him. This is our greatest joy: just as He’s always done, He’ll always do. We know He’ll never change in our direction. Moreover, all our days He’s available to us and wants to walk along the way with us.
Look! there is nothing higher or better--or more reasonable—than for you to eat and drink of Him, to abide in Him, to enjoy Him, to find your entire life in Him, for this is the meaning of your whole human life. You have already been given the keys of the Kingdom, all its inheritances, riches and splendors, and you are simply called to humbly accept—this is what’s required of you.
So, today, will you remember this One whose own joy fills your heart?
4 We have seen the way the Son bore all the embarrassments, indignities, and sufferings which are common to mankind. And look! He even shed tears with us in our pain, and was the comforter of all who mourned. Then He put Himself between the powerful oppressor of humanity, and defeated that one who’d robbed us of all comfort. And when that evil one thought that Jesus was dead—slinking off in his diabolical sense of cosmic triumph—he was in for the rudest sort of surprise, wasn’t he? For better than a martyr who’d die to set us free, leaving us orphans yet under the power of the evil one, is this One who’d die and return to us. That is the glory of this deed done by the perfect Son!
Now we see that all our lives and all the work intended for us is to acquaint mankind, all our “neighbors,” with the finished work of Jesus. This is our purpose and a work we do in tandem with the Holy Spirit.
The wise man gets to work on this, and abides in Christ.
What a joy it is to walk in perfect peace with the One who formed us by His hand, and now fills us with His own Spirit!
Again, I get glimpses of this great purpose of ours: one person may always help another, whether they be close acquaintances or strangers, for there is never any end to the people we’ll meet, and our eyes are almost always upon another who needs Him, so that we need never ask, “What is your will, Lord Jesus?” For there they are: people are the direction of God’s love: what a joy to partner with Him to reach everyone, everywhere, everyday.
And remember: We are never alone. We are forearmed with the power of the One who’s already lived this life. If we stumble, He is there to lift us up. Always. How foolish of us to forget He is ever with us or to neglect to call upon Him for the help that He so delightedly gives! Whether we are lying down, or rising up, or sitting at work, He is there beside us, and within us. And if we ever forget the nearness of His presence, He has given us an internal witness—His own heartbeat, the Holy Spirit, now lives inside us.
How much better to be “poor in spirit,” possessing the Kingdom of Heaven today, than to live like the king of a land whose boundary-lines are ever encroaching; diminishing. For it is a form of imprisonment to try to found a life upon this world; it is a poverty-existence to found your hope upon this kingdom of sand. You and I may rise and live—we may follow after the Son with our everything today: He is the only King who stooped to save His every subject. And there’s no end of Him: He is infinite in His love and loveliness. Those who’ll follow after us will know Him by how we know Him today. Surely this, too, is our purpose and a joyous pursuit of His glory.
3 Under the new economy of Heaven, there is a new season and a new Way for every matter upon the earth:
an opportunity to be reborn, and a chance never to die;
a call to plant seed, and a sending-out to reap the harvest;
a cheek to learn to turn; and His touch, through us, to heal;
an enemy already vanquished, and a Kingdom to upbuild;
a heart to weep with those who mourn; joy to laugh an honest laughter;
a comfort, within, everyday; a dance prepared for the Wedding Feast;
a freedom from judgment, and freedom from the need, ever, to judge;
a love that embraces all, and arms to be His own embrace;
a seeking that always finds, a losing-all that wills to gain all;
an eternal invitation, never to be lost, and no time to be lost in its enjoyment;
a Voice that calls away, and the same Voice who sends out;
the joy of His quiet presence, and the ecstasy of His alive life:
ever loved, freed from all hate and hatefulness;
sent to a cosmic battle that is only to be won through His peace.
What an unbelievable gain has the disciple in what he does for Jesus! I myself have experienced the joy that He has given to His sons and daughters, when consumed with that wondrous work. From within, He makes each of our days a journey with Himself. Yet, even still, He has made this Way an eternal pursuit: the day-by-day of life is swallowed up in the everlasting; the infinite. And I have learned that there is nothing higher, nothing better, than for us to live out His joy, His peace, so long as we live; also that we should learn, in quiet trust, simply to wait upon His provision—it is His promise unto us.
I have found that everything Jesus has done is “finished,” accomplished; the reconciliation of God and man is complete in Him. Every man, woman and child stands at the precipice of salvation; that which is done for them abides: God seeks to save all--through us.
And under the reign of the Son, there is eternal justice by bestowal of His righteousness, even where there was only wickedness before. He says in our hearts, “I came, not to judge the world, but to save it”—this was the purpose of His time, His ministry, His work. Too, He tells us that as sons and daughters of His, He will use all of our circumstances to train us and to purify our hearts. What happens to us is never in vain; as tragedy strikes, or uplift comes, He is working out His will in us. All we’ll ever know will come to us through His hand; there will be nothing in our journey that lacks His purpose and meaning. For all of it leads us back to Him. We are His work, and we walk His Way in His direction. We know where His Spirit within us tends: following after Him is leading us ever Heavenward. Thus I know that there is nothing higher, nothing better, than that we should rejoice in Him today, for that is the true heart of abiding.
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
2 He says in my heart now, “Come to Me; I will be your enjoyment; find your whole life in Me.” And look! I have found it to be true. He says of joy, “It is I Myself,” and of delight, “It is yours—come and take it.” I looked inside my heart to find the joy of His life—my heart the place of His personal residence—and I found His Spirit there, showing me what is good for His sons and daughters to be, and to do, during the fleeting days of their earthly lives. We are His great work. He is building us up as houses, temples, branches in the vineyard, of His own creation. He is making us into fruitful places, works of art, planting in us the virtues and beauties of His own virtue and beauty. He has filled us with “the oil of joy”—His Holy Spirit—so that our inner lives are ever watered; ever vibrant. We, His servants, are no longer slaves: we have been born a second time into sharing a place at the Family Table. All He has is ours: “the cattle on a thousand hills” belong to Him: now they belong to us. He will give us what we need—our daily bread—from the infinite storehouses of the same One who made manna. He will sing over us, we brothers and sister of His, and He will provide for us: He delights in His sons and daughters.
He is great, and He is beyond everything and everyone who has ever walked the face of the earth. And His Way and wisdom abide with us. And whatever we ask in His name He will not keep from us. He holds nothing back that is for our good, for His heart finds joy in our enjoyment of Him: this is our experience of the life of Heaven. Let us consider all that He has done for us, all the sacrifice and love He has already shown us, and remember! He is our meaning and our purpose within this life, and there is everything to be gained in the Son.
So let us turn to consider His wisdom and Way and righteousness. For what else can the man do who follows after the King of Kings? Only what he sees the Son doing—who thus watched the Father. And thus we see that there is infinitely more to know and gain of Him; there is no end to One who is both light and life. It is our wisdom to watch Him; we walk His Way by following Him. Abiding in Jesus is the heart’s highest sense of perception. Then He may say to our hearts, “What I have done, you may do. I will be your wisdom, and I will make you wise.” And I have found this to be true in my own heart. For if I remember and encounter Jesus, both historically and contemporaneously, I see that the days are rich and robust with His presence. His life and death become wisdom and joy to me! Oh, I love Him, because what the Son is doing in me is glorious beyond all telling, for it is His life and death and resurrection all over again--in me.
Too, I love the work He’s calling me to, seeing the way it spreads His Way to the generations who’ll come after me—who knows how far my life’s work may go? Those to come, the ones to whom I’ll carry the Gospel, may come to know the Son even better than I. Isn’t that wonderful? And it is for that reason that I rise to each new day and give my heart to Him who is the purpose of each new day, for in this way another who is struggling to find wisdom and a way to life may find them—through me—by observing my own pursuit. Isn’t that the highest version of my human life? In the end, what will any man or woman hold in their hands but those strivings and pursuits that have followed in the Way of the Son? Our days with Him are joy; our work for Him is life. Even in the midst of the darkest night, He is with us. For this too He promises.
There is nothing finer for a man or woman than that they should eat of Jesus, drink of Jesus, abide in Jesus, and follow Jesus. His is the hand of God, and, of Him, we may eat and drink and abide and find our full enjoyment. And from this One who perfectly pleases His Father—who has fulfilled all righteousness—we receive all wisdom and knowledge and joy, and this to sinners like us! Yes, to “those who needed a doctor,” He has given the business of knowing Him, following Him, coming into the full pleasure of God. This is our life’s meaning and purpose—and God’s plan.
Last winter, while reading through the book of Ecclesiastes, I became somewhat obsessed with the thought that, in Jesus, everything we read there has already found its inverse in Him. In other words, if all unredeemed human life is a "vanity of vanities," the life of Jesus has already made it possible for us to live a "glorious meaning of all meanings" sort of life in Himself. In essence, He has already rewritten Solomon's words by the perfect living of His divine human life. And is inviting us into the same.
So I decided to extrapolate what that might mean, using Ecclesiastes' words—but in their opposite, their inverse.
For these next twelve posts, I'll be offering a "chapter" each week showing how Jesus has rewired Ecclesiastes into our New Covenant reality. I hope this brings into focus how glorious is His Way, His Kingdom!
1 The words of a follower of Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings.
Glorious meaning of all meanings, says this disciple,
glorious meaning of all meanings! All is now worthwhile.
What do men and women gain by following Jesus
in the day by day of life?
Lives made new, generational experience of the Kingdom,
the world of creation seeing “sons of God coming into their own.”
The Son has given His life! And risen!
He has ascended back to the place from which He came--Glory!
His Spirit now flows into our lives
and travels over the face of the earth in us;
through and through us flows the Holy Spirit,
making all things new.
Streams of His joy pour down inside us,
overflowing and then flowing over:
into the lives of others around us,
that they may see Him.
His Way is rich with life—life to the full;
human lips cannot compass it;
our eyes are full of the wonder of His glory,
our ears with the sound of His voice.
“Even greater things” will He do through us,
and what has been in Him is what we shall do:
all is new and real under the aegis of the Son.
Are there impossible things of which it can be said,
“No, this is clearly impossible”?
He has said we can do these things;
we have heard His promise.
We remember how He did it in His day;
we remember, yes—yet remembrance
of earlier things is not His Way:
for He still speaks.
I, by His own choosing, have come to be a disciple of this Jesus from Nazareth. And I have given my heart and mind to seeking and searching out His wisdom, His Way, right in the midst of the ways of the world around us. It is a wondrous business that He has given to His brothers and sisters to be focused upon. We have seen some of what He has done with a life, and look! all in Him is glory and joy and peace: a daily experience of encounter and following after Him.
The way is narrow and straight,
and we shall lack for nothing upon it.
I rejoice in my heart now, “I know Jesus: He is the Way, the truth, the life: He surpasses all who have ever lived: He lives in my heart right now, bringing with Him all wisdom and knowledge.” And I have given my heart and mind to knowing Him—and also my awareness to all that is not Him. All else that is, is not: it is like chaff in the wind.
But knowing Jesus is knowing Life Himself:
he who comes to know Jesus has attained to Life.
"...this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith."
The Sickness Unto Death
* * *
"We, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, know that a man is justified not by performing what the Law commands but by faith in Jesus Christ. We ourselves are justified by our faith and not by our obedience to the Law, for we have recognised that no one can achieve justification by doing the 'works of the Law.' Now if, as we seek the real truth about justification, we find we are as much sinners as the Gentiles, does that mean that Christ makes us sinners? Of course not! But if I attempt to build again the whole structure of justification by the Law then I do, in earnest, make myself a sinner. For under the Law I 'died,' and now I am dead to the Law’s demands so that I may live for God. As far as the Law is concerned I may consider that I died on the cross with Christ. And my present life is not that of the old 'I,' but the living Christ within me. The bodily life I now live, I live believing in the Son of God, who loved me and sacrificed himself for me. Consequently I refuse to stultify the grace of God by reverting to the Law. For if righteousness were possible under the Law then Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:15-21, Phillips)
“Thy God hath sent forth strength for thee.”
“The day lies before us. It will bring us things that in ourselves we have no strength to meet. That does not matter. Our God has already sent forth strength for us. It is like that other word, My God with His lovingkindness shall come to meet me. Strength and lovingkindness—what more do we need? That duty, that difficulty, which we see coming to meet us, what of it? Our God hath already sent forth strength for us, and before the thing we fear can meet us on the road, our God with His lovingkindness shall meet us there.”
Edges of His Ways