Tag Archive | John

The Father of Lights

 

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 21:22-22:5

The apostle, having thus introduced the sun as a figure to represent the Father of lights, finding that it did not bear the full resemblance of the invisible God, seems constrained to amend it by a remark that, unlike the sun, our Father has no turning or variableness. The sun has its daily variation; it rises at a different time each day, and it sets at various hours in the course of the year. It moves into other parts of the heavens. It is clouded at times, and eclipsed at times. It also has tropic; or, turning. It turns its chariot to the South, until, at the solstice, God bids it reverse its rein, and then it visits us once more.

But God is superior to all figures or emblems. He is immutable. The sun changes, mountains crumble, the ocean shall be dried up, the stars shall wither from the vault of night; but God, and God alone, remains ever the same. Were I to enter into a full discourse on the subject of immutability, my time, if multiplied by a high number, would fail me. But reminding you that there is no change in His power, justice, knowledge, oath, threatening, or decree, I will confine myself to the fact that His love to us knows no variation. How often it is called unchangeable, everlasting love! He loves me now as much as he did when first he inscribed my name in his eternal book of election. He has not repented of his choice. He has not blotted out one of his chosen; there are no erasures in that book; all whose names are written in it are safe for ever.

For meditation: As part of creation the sun speaks of the character of God (Romans 1:20) but even at its brightest can only give a glimpse of his glory. Praise God for the Lord Jesus Christ, the true light (John 1:9) whose face, when transfigured, shone like the sun (Matthew 17:2); God the Son has made God the Father of light known to us (John 1:18).

1st sermon at New Park St.
27 July (Preached 18 December 1853)

 

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King of Glory

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD of Heaven’s Armies–he is the King of glory.
Psalm 24:9-10
In ancient times, opening the gates meant becoming defenseless. It either meant that you were on the right side of the battle and your king was returning home, or you were on the wrong side of the battle and you were being taken over by a new king–a more powerful king.

The king referred to in Psalm 24 is repeatedly described as the King of glory. Glory means the state of being magnificent, splendid, extraordinary, and praiseworthy. Still, the psalmist does not name this King. Who is this King of glory?

At the time of Jesus’ birth, a star had indicated the birth of an extraordinary king ( Matt. 2:2). Thirty-three years later, when confronted by Pilate, Jesus acknowledged that he was a king but that his kingdom was clearly not on this earth (John 18:36). Where is the kingdom that Jesus rules, and how will we recognize it?

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (Rev. 19:11-16)

The conquering of sin and the defeat of death has revealed Jesus as the true King of glory. Jesus took on our battle, defeating sin and death, and now, we are people of his kingdom. Our hearts belong to the king who rightly won them. He is indeed praiseworthy, magnificent, splendid, and extraordinary! We lift our “gates” (hearts) to the true King of glory.

 

 

Transformation Garden July 24

 

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23 King James Version

EXPLORATION

How God treats sinners who repeatedly fail.”

“Soon afterward, Jesus went on through towns and villages, preaching and bringing the Good News of the gospel of the kingdom of God.  And the twelve apostles were with Him.  And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases; Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been expelled.”  Luke 8: 1,2 The Amplified Bible

“There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love for me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion Him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself.”
J. I. Packer

Knowing God

INSPIRATION

“I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings, there’s nothing left of your sins.  Come back to me,  come back.  I’ve redeemed you.”
Isaiah 44: 22
The Message

A few years ago, my niece Bethanie asked me to help her put a résumé together.  She was applying for a new job and wanted to present herself in the most professional way possible.  Working to help her assemble facts about her life was a good experience for me because I began to do a little research on what is important when someone is trying to put their “best foot forward.”

Bethanie’s final résumé told where she was born and went to school.  It gave her educational and job experience. We highlighted her accomplishments and honors.  And to show she was well-rounded we told a little about her hobbies outside of work.  Along with her warm personality and a well-written and truthful résumé, she made a great impression and was hired by the first company she interviewed with.

Now let’s just say your résumé starts out like this:

Name:                                      Mary (very common at that time in history)
Address:                                  Magdala (A coastal city)
Family:                                    Unknown
Work experience:                    Unknown
Educational Background:      Unknown
Health:                                       Possessed by 7 demons

Do you believe you could impress anyone with a résumé that looked like that?  I know I couldn’t.  Let’s even go one step further. What if someone came to your church and wanted to be a member and this was what they told you about themselves.  Do you think everyone would be thrilled to admit Mary of Magdala into the ranks?  And what if you had a guest speaker at your church and Mary wanted to sit on the front row?  Don’t you think someone might worry that she’d have one of her “demon” attacks right in the middle of the service and embarrass everybody? Let’s be honest, the thought would cross my mind!

And yet – when Jesus gathered a group of faithful followers – disciples – around Him, those who traveled with Him from city to city and town to town, His group included a tax collector, a bunch of rough-neck fishermen, a doubter, a betrayer, a rich woman, a poor man, and a devil possessed woman who kept being visited again and again by the evil one.  The Bible says that 7 times Mary had to have Jesus cast out the evil spirit that plagued her mind and tried to destroy her life.

The Bible doesn’t tell us whether Mary fell back under the power of the evil one because of her own willfully sinful behavior or if it was a demon that kept attacking a weak soul. Whatever the problem, Mary fell under the spell of the wicked one over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again! Yes!  Seven times! And I want to assure you, if Mary had needed Jesus’ healing power eight times – He would have been there to touch her life again.  That’s how God treats us when we repeatedly fall. As long as we keep calling out to Him, He will come to us!  Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t give us a license to sin freely, knowing our God of love will forgive.  Because, as we have already learned, sin is a corrosive agent that destroys anything it touches.  However, if through weakness we are overcome, take courage from these words of Jesus, recorded in John 6: 37, “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me” (John 6: 37, The Good News).

Jesus never turned a deaf ear to Mary’s cry for help.  Instead He lifted her up out of a pit of despair.  And He kept doing it – even 7 times!

In his book, The Road to Daybreak, Henri Nouwen writes so poignantly about the relationship Jesus had with Mary.  Especially at the end of His life on earth when He came to a garden to meet for one last time with this precious woman whom He had repeatedly delivered from the power of evil.  Here’s how the scene of Jesus coming to the garden to meet Mary is described:

“When Jesus calls Mary by her name, he is doing much more than speaking the words by which everybody knows her, for her name signifies her whole being. Jesus knows Mary of Magdala. He knows her story, her sin and her virtue, her fears and her love, her anguish and her hope. He knows every part of her heart.  Nothing in her is hidden from him. He knows her even more deeply and profoundly that she knows herself.  Therefore, when he utters her name he brings about a profound event. Mary suddenly realizes that the one who truly knows her truly loves her…

I can see what a healing moment this encounter must have been. Mary feels at once fully known and fully loved. The division between what she feels safe to show and what she does not dare to reveal no longer exists. She is fully seen and she knows that the eyes that see her are the eyes of forgiveness, mercy, love, and unconditional acceptance.”

Isn’t that wonderful? And isn’t it just like the Son of God, the reflector of our Heavenly Father, to show us how God treats us when we repeatedly fall. He forgives, shows mercy and love, and “unconditional acceptance.”  In the words of Patrick, the ‘Apostle of the Irish,’ “I was like a stone lying deep in mud but God that is mighty lifted me on top of the wall.”

There is Nothing That Cannot Be Redeemed

“No one can put together what has crumbled into dust,
but you can restore a conscience turned to ashes;
you can restore to its former beauty a soul lost and without hope.
With you there is nothing that cannot be redeemed;
you are love, you are Creator and Redeemer;
we praise you singing: Alleluia.”
Gregory Petrov

AFFIRMATIONS

“Precious in God’s sight you are,
divinely made in God’s delight,
endowed with beauty woven deep within,
brighter than the darkest sin.

Wondrous in God’s sight you are,
though fallen deep, though fallen far,
still full-graced to reach the stars,
to break all chains and burst all bars.

Beloved in God’s sight you are,
whose laser vision probes the years,
who knows the pain, the lonely fears,
and weeps before your hidden tears.

Claimed in God’s sight you are,
who jealously formed you of His seed.
None can claim your special place
or rob you of your given grace.

Free in God’s sight you are,
to rise in rainbow’d glory,
to claim the God-light in your soul
and tell the world your story.

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

P.S.  My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian.  You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.

Reminder, the book, The Man Who Loved Women, is available at a substantial discount at www.Amazon.com. Thanks to all of you who have shared the book by giving it to someone as a gift.

 

Groundbreaker

by: Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of July 22, 2012

“The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, ‘He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for Him!'”  -Mark 1:6

Has God ever spoken to you to step up and do something outside of your comfort zone? You may have said, “Yes, Lord,” only to find yourself alone in the journey? Did no one else understand what you were doing or what you were going through—when you were in the midst—except you and God? Was the assignment difficult? Did it even look and feel impossible? Did you have to press forward against the odds? Did you endure persecution? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you could be a groundbreaker.

Groundbreakers are more than influencers. They are transformers through the power of God. They run ahead of the pack. They are forerunners, spiritual bulldozers. They clear the path for others to enter. They confront giants on battlefields and co-labor with God to do the physical work, even when no one else shows up.

Groundbreakers are tenacious people who intentionally choose to step out in great faith for the Lord. They are the people who love God so much they will do anything for Him. They are the ones God assigns to His new movements to get the job done. They are carriers of God’s vision, purpose and commitment. And, by God’s enduring grace, they can handle the aloneness and the burdens of the mission.

Groundbreakers receive revelations and understand that others will see God’s vision manifested in His time. They move forward in obedience and confidence unto the Lord. They work unto Him, not man. And they know their rewards come from God.

Modern day groundbreakers look like entrepreneurs, inventors, church planters, missionaries and other ordinary people who are assigned by God to do powerful ventures. They take new ground, pressing through resistance, witnessing God’s extraordinary miracles and manifestations on earth as it is in heaven.

Probably one of the most obvious groundbreakers in the Bible was John the Baptist. God chose John to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry on earth. John was Jesus’ cousin and champion, the quintessential forerunner. God consecrated this man—who had a heart for Jesus on a blood level—and enabled him to handle the aloneness journey, as is evident by his desert existence. I wonder what exactly happened to John when he leaped in Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:41). We know he was filled with the Holy Spirit, as was Elizabeth; but what would he have shared with us if he could’ve spoken about this very early and extraordinary encounter? John was destined for great exploits, commissioned for God’s assignments, a great adventurer, one who could handle solitude.

The Bible is full of groundbreakers. Consider Moses, who led a nation out of slavery. Consider Abraham, who entered into the unknown and became the father of all nations. Consider Joshua who reclaimed the Promised Land, battling giants so that others could be reconciled and live peaceably.

Getting inspired? How is God using you? What is God calling you to do? To love Him with all your heart, soul and strength (Luke 10:27)? To love your neighbor as yourself? To go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)?

You can begin right where you are. Choose to trust God. Surrender your life to Him. Invite Jesus into your heart. Choose to keep Him first in your life. Ask Him where He would like you to go and how He would like to use you to build His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He will take you to new heights and lead you to new adventures. He will issue you assignments that will feel bigger than you. And the Holy Spirit will help you complete them His way. The rewards will be far better than you can choose to accomplish alone. Are you ready to step out more for God?

July 23 Woman’s Devotional

 

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD of Heaven’s Armies–he is the King of glory.
Psalm 24:9-10, NLT
In ancient times, opening the gates meant becoming defenseless. It either meant that you were on the right side of the battle and your king was returning home, or you were on the wrong side of the battle and you were being taken over by a new king–a more powerful king.

The king referred to in Psalm 24 is repeatedly described as the King of glory. Glory means the state of being magnificent, splendid, extraordinary, and praiseworthy. Still, the psalmist does not name this King. Who is this King of glory?

At the time of Jesus’ birth, a star had indicated the birth of an extraordinary king ( Matt. 2:2). Thirty-three years later, when confronted by Pilate, Jesus acknowledged that he was a king but that his kingdom was clearly not on this earth (John 18:36). Where is the kingdom that Jesus rules, and how will we recognize it?

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (Rev. 19:11-16)

The conquering of sin and the defeat of death has revealed Jesus as the true King of glory. Jesus took on our battle, defeating sin and death, and now, we are people of his kingdom. Our hearts belong to the king who rightly won them. He is indeed praiseworthy, magnificent, splendid, and extraordinary! We lift our “gates” (hearts) to the true King of glory.

 

The Lord’s Care for His Own

Matthew 18:10–14 “It is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (v. 14).

After a brief interlude in which Jesus warns us to separate ourselves from those things that tempt us, our Savior returns in today’s passage to a discussion of how the children of the kingdom must treat one another. Matthew 18:10 records His warning that we not “despise one of these little ones.” Given that chapter 18 has thus far emphasized our need for humility (vv. 1–9), Christ is telling us that we must not become puffed up with self-pride and look down on other Christians. Despising another believer means to treat him with disrespect, refusing to receive him as our equal in God’s eyes (see v. 5).

Dr. John MacArthur gives a fine summary of what we are to learn from verses 10–14, namely, that to treat “any fellow believer with contempt is extremely serious since God and the holy angels are so concerned for their well-being” (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,157). First of all, the angels in heaven dwell continually before our Creator, beholding His face (Matt. 18:10), which probably means in this context that they are attentive to the Father’s will and always ready to obey His commands. Should He release them, these angels will move at His order to minister to His children (Heb. 1:14). Fear of reprisal from these creatures should be enough to make any of us treat our fellow Christians well.

Secondly, and far more significant, God’s “care extends itself to every particular member of the flock, even the lowest” (Matthew Henry). He shepherds His people, working to keep errant believers from finally perishing (Matt. 18:12–14). Since we are called to imitate God (Eph. 5:1), to some degree we all must minister to one another. Of course, the elders of the church are the primary shepherds of the Lord’s flock (1 Peter 5:1–5). Nevertheless, we must still bear the burdens of one another (Gal. 6:2) and love wandering brothers and sisters back into the fold. Oftentimes, we will not reach out to others who are stuck in sin or who have harmed us because we think they are beyond redemption. Such an attitude betrays an arrogance that believes we who live holy lives are more deserving of God’s love than others. Such an attitude is not the mark of our Father’s humble children, who alone will inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:1–4).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

God is not willing that any of His own should perish (Matt. 18:14), and so He shepherds us, using His staff to discipline us if that is what is necessary to keep us in the fold. One way in which the Lord exercises this shepherding is through the love of Christians one for another. We must all grieve when we see brothers or sisters stumble and do all that we can to rescue them. Especially if you are a church leader, do not abandon your sheep.

For further study:  2 Samuel 5:1–5

The Bible in a year:  Psalms 56–58

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.