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gold

Maybe your earthly father had short arms and deep pockets.  Or long arms and shallow pockets.  Or crossed arms and closed pockets.

Your Father in heaven is different.

He's rich beyond your wildest imaginings.  6 times Paul says it in Ephesians (1:7,18; 2:4,7; 3:8,16).

He's rich - rich I tells ya.  And it's just the normal word for wealthy. Loaded. Rolling in it.  Stinking, filthy rich.  Like Abraham (Gen 13:2), like Solomon (1 Kings 3:13), like 'the rich man' (Mark 10:25).  Your Father is no pauper.

And neither is He a miser.  He lavishes His children with every treasure at His disposal.  First, He commits all things into the hands of His Son (John 3:35).  The nations are His inheritance (Ps 2:8).  The whole creation is a love gift for Him (Col 1:15-16).  But for the sake of His Son, and so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29), the Father brings us into His inheritance. We become objects of the Father's lavish philanthropy.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.  (Eph 2:4-5)

We weren't just dirt poor, we'd bitten the dust - dead in transgressions and sins.  Yet even in that lowest of gutters God's riches were lavished on us - His riches in mercy - to make us alive with Christ.  Not only this...
In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us  (Eph 1:7-8)
 Now in Christ we are lavished with freedom and forgiveness of our sins.  And we stand as witnesses to heaven and earth of how generous is our Father in bestowing such treasures:
  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  (Eph 2:6-7)
 God is rich and will be known as rich.

But perhaps you don't feel able to appreciate this wealth.  Maybe you're not feeling the benefits of this incredible union with Christ?  Well God's riches aren't just for the bestowal of grace, they enable you to appreciate these blessings too:

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith  (3:16-17)

You know what this means?  God even has riches that awaken us to the riches He's already bestowed!  Talk about grace upon grace.

And if we despair that we don't already possess these riches in their fullness, Paul has another prayer:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (Eph 1:18)

What a day of sumptuous opulence and overwhelming prosperity when we are heirs of God, co-heirs of the cosmos with Christ and when God Himself inherits us His saints.

What can we do in the meantime except...

...to preach to the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3:8)

Christ is the storehouse of the Father's overflowing bounty.  We beggars, who've gotten rich quick, tell the world where to find true wealth.

So rejoice.  Daddy's rich.

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Jesus went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,  but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.  During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake... Jesus said to them: "Take courage! I AM. Don't be afraid."  (Matthew 14:23-27)

There He is - communing with His Father on high.

There are His people, buffeted by the waves.

What does He do?  Simply pray for them?  Give advice from a distance?  No, He joins them.

He walks through the storm and treads on the abyss and does everything in His power to be with His beloved.  Fighting through the powers of chaos, He declares His divine name - I AM.  Here is the One who descends into His people's affliction to bring them out.

So take courage.  Fear not.  The I AM has come to bring us home.

On the King's English I've been thinking about a triune creation.

In the beginning

Let there be light

Let us make man in our image

Be fruitful and multiply

Behold, it was very good

God rested

The Breath of Life

It's really striking me how profligate is the triune God of grace.  The Father, Son and Spirit bubble over in love.  A unitarian god needs creation.  And all relations between such a creator and its creature are quid pro quo arrangements.  The triune God does nothing about of necessity.  It's all about gift and free overflow.

We can genuinely say "You really didn't have to."  And the Lord will reply, "I know, but I wanted to."

So my friend, whoever you are.  Know in your heart: You are entirely unnecessary.  Entirely.  Unnecessary.  You are a profligate extravagance, a superfluous addendum, a needless flourish.  The Lord, His universe, His church, His kindgom purposes could so easily do without you.  You are completely surplus to requirements.

And you say "I need to be needed!  If my children don't need me, I'll fall apart.  If my church doesn't need me, I'll crumble.  If my work doesn't need me, who am I?"

But you don't need to be needed.  You only think you need to be needed because you've forgotten you're loved.  So let me remind you...

You are wanted.  You are desired.  And not for anything 'you offer.'  You are surplus to requirements.  But our God doesn't deal in requirements, He enjoys the surplus.  He delights in you.

Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.  (Eph 2:4-5)

You are entirely unnecessary, but utterly loved.

2

From today's evening and morning (ht Paul Blackham):

“My sister, my spouse.”

— Song of Solomon 4:12

Observe the sweet titles with which the heavenly Solomon with intense affection addresses his bride the church. “My sister, one near to me by ties of nature, partaker of the same sympathies. My spouse, nearest and dearest, united to me by the tenderest bands of love; my sweet companion, part of my own self. My sister, by my Incarnation, which makes me bone of thy bone and flesh of thy flesh; my spouse, by heavenly betrothal, in which I have espoused thee unto myself in righteousness. My sister, whom I knew of old, and over whom I watched from her earliest infancy; my spouse, taken from among the daughters, embraced by arms of love, and affianced unto me for ever. See how true it is that our royal Kinsman is not ashamed of us, for he dwells with manifest delight upon this two-fold relationship. We have the word “my” twice in our version; as if Christ dwelt with rapture on his possession of his Church. “His delights were with the sons of men,” because those sons of men were his own chosen ones. He, the Shepherd, sought the sheep, because they were his sheep; he has gone about “to seek and to save that which was lost,” because that which was lost was his long before it was lost to itself or lost to him. The church is the exclusive portion of her Lord; none else may claim a partnership, or pretend to share her love. Jesus, thy church delights to have it so! Let every believing soul drink solace out of these wells. Soul! Christ is near to thee in ties of relationship; Christ is dear to thee in bonds of marriage union, and thou art dear to him; behold he grasps both of thy hands with both his own, saying, “My sister, my spouse.” Mark the two sacred holdfasts by which thy Lord gets such a double hold of thee that he neither can nor will ever let thee go. Be not, O beloved, slow to return the hallowed flame of his love.

 

2

From today's evening and morning (ht Paul Blackham):

“My sister, my spouse.”

— Song of Solomon 4:12

Observe the sweet titles with which the heavenly Solomon with intense affection addresses his bride the church. “My sister, one near to me by ties of nature, partaker of the same sympathies. My spouse, nearest and dearest, united to me by the tenderest bands of love; my sweet companion, part of my own self. My sister, by my Incarnation, which makes me bone of thy bone and flesh of thy flesh; my spouse, by heavenly betrothal, in which I have espoused thee unto myself in righteousness. My sister, whom I knew of old, and over whom I watched from her earliest infancy; my spouse, taken from among the daughters, embraced by arms of love, and affianced unto me for ever. See how true it is that our royal Kinsman is not ashamed of us, for he dwells with manifest delight upon this two-fold relationship. We have the word “my” twice in our version; as if Christ dwelt with rapture on his possession of his Church. “His delights were with the sons of men,” because those sons of men were his own chosen ones. He, the Shepherd, sought the sheep, because they were his sheep; he has gone about “to seek and to save that which was lost,” because that which was lost was his long before it was lost to itself or lost to him. The church is the exclusive portion of her Lord; none else may claim a partnership, or pretend to share her love. Jesus, thy church delights to have it so! Let every believing soul drink solace out of these wells. Soul! Christ is near to thee in ties of relationship; Christ is dear to thee in bonds of marriage union, and thou art dear to him; behold he grasps both of thy hands with both his own, saying, “My sister, my spouse.” Mark the two sacred holdfasts by which thy Lord gets such a double hold of thee that he neither can nor will ever let thee go. Be not, O beloved, slow to return the hallowed flame of his love.

 

You have looked on me as though I were the Most Exalted of Men, O LORD God.  (1 Chronicles 17:17)

 

 

Today is the anniversary of Blaise Pascal's night of fire.  He turned decisively from the god of the philosophers and found Jesus Christ, the true and living God:

The year of grace 1654
Monday, 23 November.
From about half past ten in the evening until half past midnight. 

Fire
'God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,' not of philosophers and scholars.
Certainty, certainty, heartfelt, joy, peace.
God of Jesus Christ.
God of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
'Thy God shall be my God.'
The world forgotten, and everything except God.
He can only be found by the ways taught in the Gospels.
Greatness of the human soul.
'O righteous Father, the world had not known thee, but I have known thee.'
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have cut myself off from him.
They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.
'My God wilt thou forsake me?'
Let me not be cut off from him for ever!
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.'
Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
I have cut myself off from him, shunned him, denied him, crucified him.
Let me never be cut off from him!
He can only be kept by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Sweet and total renunciation.
Total submission to Jesus Christ and my director.
Everlasting joy in return for one day's effort on earth.
I will not forget thy word. Amen.

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wait2

[A repost]

Ever noticed how much the theme of waiting comes up in the Scriptures?

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Two examples from the OT.

People waiting for Jesus:

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In Genesis 49 we see the kings from Judah promised as throne-warmers for the Universal King (v10).  In the midst of Jacob's many prophesies he says:

"For Your Yeshua I will wait O LORD."  (Gen 49:18)

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Let's leap over loads more and land on Psalm 130:5-8:

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.  He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

The LORD Himself is coming to redeem His people.  Wait for Him.  Watch for Him.  Put your hope in Him - which is strictly parallel to putting your hope in His word (interesting parallel).

Well the Universal King came and He offered full redemption.  So NT people are not people of waiting right?  Wrong.

Hebrews 9:28 explains:

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

What's the distinguishing mark of the Christian?  Waiting for Jesus.

I could pick loads more but what about 1 Thes 1:9-10; 2 Tim 4:8 and Jude 21:

You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead--Jesus, Who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.

Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Do you have "expectant" mothers in your church?  I hope you're not dumb enough to ask them whether they've given birth yet.  But if you were to ask them how they're doing, you'll invariably get the response, "Still waiting."  There's an event in the future that's coming and it changes everything in the present.  How you doing?  Waiting.

That's the Christian's outlook on life.  Waiting for God's Son from heaven, longing for His appearing, waiting for His mercy and eternal life.

Do you miss Jesus?  Is there a yearning for face-to-face with the Lord who died for you?

When I was engaged to my wife we were on opposite sides of the planet.  In fact we did long-distance for over a year.  But here's what kept me faithful to her.  And more than faithful, here's what kept our long-distance relationship positively vibrant.  We were waiting for our wedding day.  And that expectancy shaped virtually every minute of our lives.  Simply waiting for this future state rendered any notions of infidelity unthinkable.  Waiting was not an absence of activity.  It wasn't a lack that necessarily needed filling.  It was not a nothing preceding a something.  It was a something of enormous substance.  Waiting in this sense is a tangible reality.

So it is with the Christian.

When we're asked how we're doing, perhaps we should respond like the 'expectant' mum or the engaged couple.  How am I? Still waiting.

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Below is a repost from last year.  But I think it relates well to recent thoughts about identity.

I want to be clear:  I don't think my status-anxiety will be solved by simple self-denial and a "chin-up" resolve to ignore my aching existential angst.  No, I need to be wooed from my self-preoccupation.  And not by a G-O-D who demands I be as pre-occupied with him as he is.  I am wooed from self by a loving Lord who's set His affection on me.

When I see Him truly I cannot help but see that He is for me.   Therefore I don't need to be.  If I properly see Him in His utter self-giving for my sake it doesn't actually confirm my self-obsession (though you might think it would).  Instead I'm released into His life of other-centredness.  And in that I become the real me.

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Self-pity is, for me, like a low-level virus, a background throb, a sapping sickness.  It heavies my bones and fizzies my blood.

But the other day I gained instant relief.  I was reading Psalm 103 in the King James version.  Verse 13 says:

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.

Could this be true?  Does the LORD Himself pity me?  Yes.  With fatherly affection and concern.  I provoke the heart-felt pity of the living God.

You might think this would confirm my dreadful indulgence.  After all, heaven seems to agree with my self-obsession.  Actually no.  He pities the fool who pities himself.  In spite of my wallowing, the LORD's pity is a great 'nonetheless.'

A father whose child cries only for attention may still choose to pick up the boy, spin him round and kiss him.  He is not caving into the child's manipulation.  Instead He is loving from his own free grace.  And the boy is weaned from self by the love of another.

In the same way our Father in heaven reaches down in His Son to self-pitying wretches.  And He lifts us up, not to confirm our self-centredness but to replace it.  Now that heaven pities me, I simply have no need.  What could my own self-preoccupation add to the divine pre-occupation of the LORD, who sets His affections on me?

And so this verse brought a tremendous release.  Just as the LORD's love frees us from self-love, His service frees us from self-service, so His pity frees us from self-pity.

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He is the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace... Get up from your beds of sloth; rise from your chambers of ease; go forth, go forth to pray, to labor, to suffer; go forth to live in purity, leaving Babylon behind; go forth to walk with him alone, leaving even your kinsfolk and acquaintance if they will not follow with you. Wherefore tarriest thou at home when the King is abroad? “Behold the Bridegroom cometh, come ye forth to meet him...”

Today let your eye rest upon him. Let your eye behold the head that today is crowned with glory, wearing many crowns. Behold ye, too, his hands which once were pierced, but are now grasping the scepter. Look to his girdle where swing the keys of heaven, and death, and hell. Look to his feet, once pierced with iron, but now set upon the dragon’s head. Behold his legs, like fine brass, as if they glowed in a furnace. Look at his heart, that bosom which heaves with love to you, and when you have surveyed him from head to foot exclaim, “Yea, he is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.”

Spurgeon

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