Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you beheld the Lamb of God?


Dear Pilgrim, have you beheld the Lamb of God? The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world? Have you looked upon the Lamb who was slain?

Come, Pilgrim. Let us ascend, let us climb up to Golgotha, the place of the skull. Oh, Pilgrim, let us take off our sandals as we climb, for this is holy ground.

Pilgrim, well might you be trembling beside me. I am trembling too. For here He has taken up our pain, and bears our suffering. He has been pierced for our transgressions, and crushed for our iniquities. The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Oh, Pilgrim, He is bearing our sins in His body on the cross. He is bearing my sin. He is bearing your sin.

When Abraham declared to Isaac “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Gen 22:8), could he have known how these words would be fulfilled? On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided, and here, on the mountain of the Lord, the Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, was provided.

Just as the Passover Lamb was a lamb without defect, so Jesus Christ was a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Pe 1:19). Pilate declared after examining the Lamb, “I find no basis for a charge against Him” (John 19:6). Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth (Isa 53:7). For Jesus made no reply, not to a single charge that was brought against Him (Mt 27:14). Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

He was like one from whom people hid their faces, for He was despised and held in low esteem. Oh, Pilgrim, let us not hide our faces from Him! Let us kneel here, at the foot of the cross, let us gaze up at our Saviour, our precious Redeemer, who is spilling His blood for you and for me, who is pouring out His blood for many for the forgiveness of sins. Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

See Him on the cross, the Bread of Affliction (Dt 16:3). The bread of affliction, bread made without yeast, was eaten along with the Passover Lamb by the Israelites in remembrance of the night they fled Egypt. The Bread of Life, the living bread that came down from heaven, became the Bread of Affliction that we might eat of His flesh which He gave for the life of the world.

Hear the Bread of Affliction crying out “I am thirsty”, in order to fulfil the Scriptures. A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. As they did so, they lay before us the meal that Ruth’s Kinsman-Redeemer offered to her, when he gave her a meal of bread dipped in wine vinegar (Ruth 2:14).

Pilgrim, as we kneel at the foot of the cross, gazing at our Saviour, in repentance feeding on Him as He gives His life for us, listen to the words Boaz speaks to Ruth as she shares this meal: “I’ve been told…how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (Ruth 2:11-12). Oh Pilgrim, how can it be that He would speak in this manner to us? How can we have found such favour in His eyes? How can it be that He would give such comfort to us, and speak so kindly to us, when it is our sin which has caused His suffering, when it is because of our own sin that He hangs on this cross? Yet He does indeed speak these words to us, who have left everything to come and kneel here, at the foot of His cross, we who have fled the city where we dwelt to find refuge in the mountains. We will be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings we have come to take refuge. For it is in His cross that we have come to take refuge, it is in His cross where we shelter in the shadow of His wings, it is in His cross that we are covered by His blood – His blood in which a rich reward is to be found.

For His blood of the covenant was poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins. We, who were in slavery to sin, have been redeemed through His blood! We, who were far away, have been brought near by His blood! He has cleansed our consciences from acts that lead to death through His blood! We have been reconciled with our Father in heaven through His blood! We have peace with God through His blood! He makes us holy through His blood! We have been purified from sin through His blood! He has freed us from our sins through His blood! We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb!

Oh, Pilgrim, what precious blood this is! What riches there are in His blood! Oh, Pilgrim, at one and the same time are our hearts not filled with grief that He had to pour out His blood, yet filled with rejoicing at what has been accomplished? What can we do but bow down and worship? Let us fall down before Him and worship! Oh, sing with me, Pilgrim, sing, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you called on the Lord in your distress?


Dear Pilgrim, have you called on the Lord in your distress? When trouble has come your way, have you cried to your God for help? Have you cried to Him for mercy as you lift up your hands to His Most Holy Place? Have you cried out to Him that He might not be deaf to your weeping? If this is so, dear Pilgrim, then you have the faith to believe that God has ears to hear.

For the idols have ears but cannot hear (Ps 115:6) – yet it is our God Himself who fashioned the ear (Ps 94:9)! Surely His ear is not too dull to hear (Isa 59:1)!

Listen to the thunderous Holy sounds on His Holy Mountain, Pilgrim. From His throne come flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. The seraphim above His throne call praises to one another, and at the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds of the temple shake. The four living creatures around the throne never stop saying day and night “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come”. Whenever they move, the sound of their wings is like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. The twenty-four elders around the throne speak out their praises to Him. And the angels! Oh, Pilgrim, there are thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, singing for joy, shouting for joy!

Pilgrim, can it be true that in such a place of Holy sounds, of Holy thunder, of Holy joy, that from His temple He hears our voices, that our cries come before Him, into His ears? Oh yes, dear Pilgrim, it is true, for our God is the God who hears! The angel of the Lord instructed Hagar to name her son Ishmael as a testament to the God who hears (Gen 16:11)! His ears are attentive to the cry of the righteous!

Cry to Him in the morning, dear Pilgrim, lay your requests before Him and wait expectantly. Evening, morning and noon cry out in your distress, that He might hear your voice. He heard His people crying out in their captivity in Egypt, for He fulfils the desires of those who fear Him, He hears their cry and saves them (Ps 145:19)! He will not hear the prayers of those whose iniquities separate them from their God, whose sin causes Him to hide His face from them (Isa 59:2). Yet when the righteous cry out, those who are walking with the Lord, who are walking before Him in humility, contrite in heart, confessing their sins, these the Lord hears. He hears the cry of His faithful servant who has been set apart for Himself (Ps 4:3).

He heard the cries of Moses, who was faithful as a servant in all God’s house. Most glorious of all, He heard Christ, who is faithful as the Son over God’s house, and Who was able to proclaim “I know that You always hear me” (John 11:42) as He brought glory to His Father during the days of His life on earth. He was heard because of His reverent submission (Heb 5:7). And what He Himself had heard from the One who sent Him, this He proclaimed to the world (John 8:26). He came from Heaven, and He testified of all that He had seen and heard (John 3:31-32). He returned to Heaven and has sent the Spirit to come to us, who now speaks to us only what He hears (John 16:13). And when we do not know how to pray as we should, it is He, the Spirit Himself, who intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom 8:26) which rise up before Him as fragrant incense and are heard at His throne.

For Pilgrim, it is not the loudness of our prayers that captures His attention. Our God is not one that we need to shout louder to that we might interrupt His thoughts (1 Ki 18:27). Hannah’s voice could not be heard when she prayed in her heart, her lips were soundlessly moving as she poured out her soul to the Lord (1 Sam 1:13-15). Yet the Lord heard her. He hears the needy, the one who has barely any strength to muster up the breath from within to cry out to Him, the one whose heart He has captured. When we can do no more than whisper a prayer to Him out of our distress, be reassured of this truth, dear Pilgrim - He hears, our God hears!

Let us utter these beautiful words of faith with the prophet Micah: “My God will hear me” (Micah 7:7)! Oh, what precious faith is revealed here! Listen to the confidence! Is He your God, Pilgrim? Yes, yes He is, for He has called you, He has chosen you, you heard His voice calling you! Will He hear you, Pilgrim? Yes, yes He will! Oh, may He give us the confidence, the assurance in Him that no matter what situation we face, our God will hear us. May we look back at all He has done for us in the past, and remind ourselves in our present time of need that our God will hear us. May we look to Christ and how He was always heard, and know that as we cry out to our God through Christ, we too will be heard for we come in the precious name of His Son! May we be comforted that we enjoy the favour of our God, that He delights to hear our voice calling to Him, for we come through His precious Son, whose voice He always delighted to hear.

Oh, Pilgrim, may our hearts always be inclined towards Him! May we never cease to cry out to Him! “For He says, ‘In the time of My favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2)!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Dear Pilgrim, do you sometimes feel you are hidden from the eyes of the Lord?


Dear Pilgrim, do you sometimes feel you are hidden from the eyes of the Lord? When your prayers seem to go unanswered, when your affliction weighs heavily upon you, does it seem as if His eyes are looking elsewhere? As your enemies gather around you, do you cry out in all humility “Arise to help me; look on my plight” (Ps 59:4)?

Pilgrim, be reassured of this truth - the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous. The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love. The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. "Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’" (Isa 29:15). "They say, ‘The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.’ Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does He who fashioned the ear not hear? Does He who formed the eye not see?" (Ps 94:7-9)

For our God is unlike the idols which have eyes but cannot see (Ps 115:5). The four living creatures surrounding the throne of God are covered with eyes, in front and behind, all round, even under their wings (Rev 4:6,8). Covered with eyes, Pilgrim! He sees! Our God is El Roi! He sees! Our God, the One who made eyes that see, looked upon all that He had made and He declared that it was very good.  And after sin had entered the world, He saw with grief Adam and Eve hiding from Him in the Garden. He is the One who saw our unformed bodies when we were woven together in the depths of the earth. From heaven He looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling-place He watches all who live on earth – He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do (Ps 33:13-15). Oh, Pilgrim, who is like our God, for He is the One who sits enthroned on high, and yet He stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth! Have you considered why He looks down, dear Pilgrim? "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God" (Ps 14:2).

And He has delivered His verdict – that truth is nowhere to be found, there is no justice. He saw that there was no-one, He was appalled that there was no-one to intervene (Isa 59:15-16). No-one, Pilgrim! Not one! Oh, have mercy, Lord! Look on our affliction and our distress and take away all our sins (Ps 25:18)! So His own arm achieved salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him. And people stared and gloated over Him, all who saw Him mocked Him and hurled insults at Him, they were appalled by His appearance which was disfigured beyond that of any human appearance. The One who keeps His eyes always on the Lord, the One who said He could only do what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19), His eyes closed as He died our death. But Pilgrim, He did not see decay (Ps 16:10), for after He suffered, He saw the light of life and was satisfied (Isa 53:11)! What a Saviour!

And behold, our Saviour came! He came and opened our eyes to our sin, and as we looked to Him for salvation, He saw our faith and these words rang out: “Take heart, your sins are forgiven” (Mt 9:2). And ever since the cry of our hearts has been “Why have I found such favour in Your eyes that You notice me?” (Ruth 2:10). It is because He sees the blood, dear Pilgrim (Ex 12:13)! He sees the blood of His precious Son which has been sprinkled over you by faith! Listen to His declaration, Pilgrim: ‘These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word’ (Isa 66:2). Be assured of your favour in His eyes, dear Pilgrim, as you remain bowed low before Him, submitted to Him in faith. You are not hidden from His eyes. His eyes are not looking elsewhere.

For Pilgrim, as we look at Him now, risen, ascended, glorified, do you see His eyes? Look – His eyes – they are like blazing fire (Rev 1:14). Blazing fire – eyes of love, dear Pilgrim, love for His Bride. Listen to the words of His Bride:

“Place me like a seal over Your heart,
like a seal on Your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.”
(Song of Solomon 8:6)

How He loves His Bride! How He is jealous for His Bride! Oh, look into those eyes, Pilgrim! Look into those eyes of blazing fire – eyes that see clearly, eyes that burn away the impurities, eyes that expose the darkness and bring all things into the light. What eyes of love! Yet those same eyes will blaze with a holy fire on the day of His wrath when His righteous judgement is revealed. On that day those who do not know Him will cry out to the rocks and mountains to hide them from His face. Even now, Pilgrim, let us cry out to the Lord that they would see His hand lifted high and look to Him in faith that they too would know Him as El Roi.

And may the knowledge that our God is the One who sees strengthen our faith. May this truth give us confidence and assurance in our faith to draw close to Him, to look upon Him with eyes of faith. May He lift our eyes to His that we may be blessed to see His eyes looking upon us, those eyes like blazing fire.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dear Pilgrim, do you hear the sound of weeping?

Weeping willow by Andre Karwath (source:commons.wikimedia.org)

Dear Pilgrim, do you hear the sound of weeping? Do you hear the sound of wailing, of mourning, of grief?

This is the Valley of Baka (Ps 84:6), a dry valley, a valley without water, the valley of weeping. This is the place where tears flow like a river day and night, where beds are flooded with weeping and couches are drenched with tears, where streams of tears flow from eyes. This is the place where daughters are taught how to wail, where laments are taught to one another. This is the place where ashes are eaten as food and drink is mingled with tears. This is the place where sackcloth is worn and dust is sprinkled on heads. This is the house of mourning, dear Pilgrim.

Oh, Pilgrim, take courage as you pass through this valley. Be heartened, for this is not the sound of worldly sorrow that you hear, this is not the crying of self-pity that leads to death. Listen, dear Pilgrim. Can you hear this is godly sorrow?

For streams of tears are flowing from eyes because His law is not obeyed (Ps 119:136). Mourning over sin in self and mourning over sin in the land, the cry goes up to heaven that all the tears that fall be listed in His scroll and in His record (Ps 56:8). The hearts of the fathers have been turned away from their children in the land, so here in the Valley of Baka hearts are poured out on the ground in the presence of the Lord, hands are lifted to Him for the lives of their children who are fainting from hunger at every street corner, fainting from a hunger and a thirst for righteousness in the land. For truth has stumbled in the streets, and righteousness stands afar as His laws are disregarded. Is there anyone who can bring comfort? Is there anyone who can build up the wall and stand in the gap?

Oh, Pilgrim, now you are weeping too. Overcome by grief, you are weeping and weeping as you cry out “Is there no-one?”

Do not weep, dear Pilgrim! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed! The Righteous One came, full of grace and Truth, and after He shouted in victory "It is finished!" He rose again, He ascended, He has sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time He waits for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet. And now that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Rom 5:5), we overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).

For as we travel through the Valley of Baka, it becomes a place of springs. As we acknowledge the Lord, as we press on to acknowledge Him, as surely as the sun rises He will appear, He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth (Hos 6:3). In the dry and weary land that you are passing through, as you spread out your hands to Him in your thirst, He will come and He will open your eyes to see the springs of water that He has provided. Where there is no water, He will give you the faith to cry out to Him in your thirst, and He will open up for you an En Hakkore – a caller’s spring (Judges 15:18-19)! He will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched land into flowing springs (Ps 107:35). The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs (Isa 35:7).

Be ever watchful though, dear Pilgrim, as you pass the springs – for not all are His - there are some deceptive brooks (Jer 15:18). These are springs without water, without His life-giving water (2 Pe 2:17). These are springs which will fail. For not only do some forsake the spring of living water, but they dig their own broken cisterns which cannot hold water (Jer 2:13). Oh, Pilgrim, watch out for those who will lead you astray, who mouth empty, boastful words and appeal to the lustful desires of the flesh, serving up to you muddied water out of a polluted well. There is no life in them! The only cure for bad water is to take a new bowl filled with salt and throw it into the spring (2 Ki 2:19-22).

Be patient as you travel through the valley, dear Pilgrim, waiting for the autumn rains. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. (James 5:7). Be patient, dear Pilgrim, as you go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, as you sow with tears. For you will reap with songs of joy in the fullness of time, you will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with you (Ps 126:5-6)!

And you will go from strength to strength, until that glorious day when you appear before God in Zion (Ps 84:7), where He will wipe away all the tears from your face, where you will drink without cost from the spring of the water of life (Rev 21:6) and where your mourning will turn to laughter (Luke 6:21). And when He comes and places a crown of beauty on your head instead of ashes (Isa 61:3) your joy will know no bounds.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you noticed the beauty of your feet?


Dear Pilgrim, have you noticed the beauty of your feet?

Take a look, dear Pilgrim. Yes, they may be hot and dusty from all the walking you have been doing, but do you see how beautiful they are?

Ah, the quizzical look in your eye…what are you wearing on your feet, dear Pilgrim? Do you see those sandals?

Remember, Pilgrim, when He first called you, when you realized you were standing on Holy ground, He told you to take off your sandals. How awesome was that moment when He revealed His Holiness to you, when you clearly saw for the first time your own uncleanness before Him. Remember how with trembling fingers you unstrapped your sandals as you bowed low before Him. Our God is Holy, Holy, Holy, and we can not bring anything with us before Him that is soiled and dirty. So those sandals which had been walking in the ways of darkness and wickedness had to be removed.

Oh, but Pilgrim, do you remember how He came to you and He Himself put sandals of fine leather on you (Eze 16:10)? The sandals that He gave you demonstrated that you were no longer a slave, a slave to sin, for slaves were given nothing to wear upon their feet. The sandals that He gave you announced before those watching that now you were a son – a son adopted into His family, given the prestige of wearing sandals upon your feet (Lk 15:22)! Oh, Pilgrim, we are not worthy to stoop down and untie the straps of His sandals (Mk 1:7), yet He came and knelt down at our feet as He dressed them in sandals of sonship and declared in great joy “How beautiful your sandalled feet!” (Song of Songs 7:1) What love is this?

Wearing these sandals of sonship, your feet have been released from snares (Ps 25:15), and instead you have been walking about in freedom because you have sought out His precepts (Ps 119:45). The path has become broad beneath you so that your ankles have not given way (Ps 18:36). Your feet have been set in a spacious place (Ps 31:8) as you have followed the lamp of His Word giving light to your path (Ps 119:105). Your feet, fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15) have been walking in the good works that He prepared in advance for you to do (Eph 2:10). On occasion it has been necessary for you to shake the dust off your feet (Mt 10:14) but have you noticed, dear Pilgrim, never once have you needed new sandals? For He has been sustaining you every step of the way (Dt 29:5).

Pilgrim, there is a further meaning behind His giving you sandals to wear. For unlike the idols which have feet, but cannot walk (Ps 115:7), our God has been walking ever since He created the world. He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8), and He promised His people “I will walk among you and be your God and you will be My people” (Lev 26:12). He walked amongst the lost sheep of Israel calling out those who would hear His voice, He walked to Golgotha to bear the penalty for our sin, His pierced feet walked with the disciples to Emmaus, and today He walks amongst His churches (Rev 2:1), speaking words of encouragement, rebuke and exhortation to those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Just as He walks, then, dear Pilgrim, we too must walk and follow our Good Shepherd as He leads the way for us, outside the city gate, to bear the disgrace He bore (Heb 13:13). Let us ask Him where He is walking, and let us follow. And do not fail to notice, dear Pilgrim, that as He walks He leads us upwards, ever heading towards Zion.

For there is a coming day when His feet will once again stand on the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4), when He will gather us to be with Him, and when we will declare “Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem!” (Ps 122:2). For this is the place of His throne and the place for the soles of His feet, the place where He will dwell among His people for ever (Eze 43:7).

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you touched the hem of His garment?


Dear Pilgrim, have you touched the hem of His garment? Are you so desperate that you will push your way through the crowd pressed around Him for that touch? Do you cry out “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And earth has nothing I desire besides You!” (Ps 73:25).

Take heart, Pilgrim, your faith will heal you as you seek His touch. Those who are not content to worship Jesus from afar, but who rather desire a personal touch from Him, oh! How He delights to bless those of such faith! For all those who touched the edge of his cloak were healed – all of them (Mt 14:36)!

Oh, Pilgrim, it is all too easy for us to remain in the courtyard of the tabernacle, the place where the crowds would gather. They would  gather to see the Son of God perform signs and wonders, they would gather to listen to His teaching, and they would marvel at what they heard, they would listen with delight. But there was widespread whispering about Him among the crowds, some saying He was a good man, others saying He deceived the people (John 7:12). It wasn’t long before the crowd turned against Him and cried out for Him to be crucified.

Pilgrim, there were very few who had the courage and the faith to leave the courtyard of the tabernacle, the place where the crowds gathered, and approach the Most Holy Place – Jesus Himself. The woman with the issue of blood had the faith to approach Him. She had the faith that a touch of His garment would heal her. Yet she lacked the courage to do so publicly. She knew she was unclean, and she knew that according to the Levitical law, if she touched anyone else, they too would become unclean (Lev 15:19). She felt shame. She could not lift her head. So she reached out to touch Him in secrecy. She reached out to touch Him from her place within the crowd.

Maybe she didn’t realise that the One she sought to touch was not a sinner like you and me who would become unclean. Rather, the One she sought to touch was Most Holy. Whatever is Most Holy does not become unclean when it is touched. Rather, whatever touches that which is Most Holy will itself become holy.

The sin offering was Most Holy (Lev 6:25). God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God  (2 Cor 5:21). Whatever touches any of the flesh of the sin offering becomes holy (Lev 6:27).

The guilt offering was Most Holy (Lev 6:17). He sacrificed His blood for us that our hearts could be sprinkled in His blood to cleanse us from a guilty conscience (Heb 10:22). Whatever touches His blood becomes holy (Lev 6:18).

The grain offering of unleavened bread was Most Holy (Lev 6:17). The Bread of Life offered up His life on the cross as He became the Bread of Affliction – striped and pierced. Whatever touches it becomes holy (Lev 6:18).

The sacred anointing oil, the fragrant blend of the perfumer, was used to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand – all these items pointing to Christ. Consecrated by the sacred anointing oil, they all became Most Holy. What touches them becomes holy (Ex 30:25-29). God anointed His Son with the Holy Spirit. And those of us who touch His Son have an anointing from the Holy One (1 John 2:20).

Oh, Pilgrim! Do you see what it means to touch Him? To touch the hem of His garment? To come forward from the crowd, to seek a personal touch? What power goes out from Him! Your sin has been forgiven! Your guilty conscience has been cleansed! You have eaten of His flesh, and drunk of His blood! You have an anointing from the Holy One! Oh, Pilgrim, when you have acted in faith like this, you will not be able to go unnoticed (Lk 8:47). If you have approached Him in shame with your head bowed down low, now lift it up as you look into the eyes of the One who has met your need! See His look of compassion! And you will be given the courage to testify before the crowd, dear Pilgrim! Testify of all that He has done for you! Overcome by the word of your testimony and by the blood of the Lamb! And you will bring Him a greater glory!

Pilgrim, having touched Him, now that you have been made holy, and now that you are being made holy, just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ (1 Pe 1:15). 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Dear Pilgrim, is anxiety great within you?


Dear Pilgrim, is anxiety great within you (Ps 94:19)? Are thoughts crowding into your head, as troubles press in around you, refusing to give you any peace?

Ah, dear Pilgrim, precious Pilgrim, the tears in your eyes tell me that such is the weight upon you at present, you cannot even answer. My friend, precious friend – come, let us spend some time thinking about your walk with Him, that His consolation might bring you joy (Ps 94:19) as your eyes are lifted upwards.

Remember when He led you into a field all those years ago, and uncovered before your eyes the richest treasure of all, the treasure of the Kingdom of God – with joy you sold everything you had and bought that field (Mt 13:44)! You left that field a changed person. Where you had lived without hope before –  now joy had been birthed in your heart. Roots were laid down in the desert and the parched land of your heart, as joy began to blossom there. With joy you took your first draught from the wells of salvation. Ohhhh! How good the taste! Shouts of joy erupted from your soul!

As you grew in your understanding, waves of mourning swept over you, threatening to extinguish the flame of joy. As you have listened to His Words, you have wept over your own sin and the unrighteousness around you. You have mourned, precious Pilgrim. The gates of Zion lament and mourn (Isa 3:26). You have followed the path of wisdom and your heart has been in the house of mourning (Eccl 7:4). But you have taken comfort in these words: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8:10). As His joy has filled you, so His comfort has flowed over.

For it is in His presence that you have come to know the fullness of joy (Ps 16:11). It is in His presence that He has filled you with a joy unspeakable, a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, as He has come alongside and shown you His own wounds. The One whose soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death as He took your sin upon His shoulders (Mt 26:38), He is the One who rejoiced over His lost sheep when He found you and joyfully put you on His shoulders (Luke 15:5).  The One who offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death during the days of His life on earth (Heb 5:7), He is the One who now rejoices over you with singing (Zeph 3:17). Where a crown of thorns was once cruelly set upon His head, He has now been anointed with the oil of joy (Heb 1:9) and it pours down His head, pours down His robes and in His presence, precious Pilgrim, it pours down upon you! Oh, Pilgrim, draw closer to Him! Share in the oil of joy with which He has been anointed! Allow that oil of joy to pour upon your head, to seep down your collar, to drip down the robe of righteousness you are wearing. Oil travels slowly, dear Pilgrim, so take your time in His presence, do not rush away until that oil of joy covers you completely.

His Word has become a feast for you – when His words come, you eat them, for they are your joy and your heart’s delight (Jer 15:16). You rejoice in following His statutes as one rejoices in great riches (Ps 119:14). Trouble and persecution come your way because of the word, yet because your roots stretch deep into Him, the enemy is unable to snatch your joy from you! For the One who endured the cross for the joy set before Him has so transformed your heart that deceit no longer dwells there, but rather you promote peace – and because of this, dear Pilgrim, you have joy (Pr 12:20)!

And Pilgrim, the joy He has given you has given me joy too! See how His Kingdom works! Your love has given me great joy and encouragement because you have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people (Phm 1:7)! My prayers for you are always filled with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now (Php 1:4-5)! I rejoice when I see you because you have put your hope in His Word (Ps 119:74)!

Oh Pilgrim, be encouraged, be strengthened, be heartened. It is His consolation that brings you joy at times of great anxiety. The One who comforts you – His Spirit, the Comforter – oh! He has not left us as orphans, praise God! Draw consolation from the Comforter, lean against the breast of Jesus, pour out your concerns to Him, then allow Him to turn you to His word, to the promise that your grief will turn to joy (John 16:20), that those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy (Ps 126:5), and be strengthened by Him alone.