Thursday, 19 December 2013

Dear Pilgrim, do you realize you are wearing a ring on your finger?

Dear Pilgrim, do you realize you are wearing a ring on your finger? Hold out your hand….do not feel embarrassed by showing your hand, dear Pilgrim, for it is no longer filthy but clean, because He has washed you...look…it is a ring of royalty! How beautiful it is! It is gleaming, shining, a magnificent jewel!

Do you remember how it came to be there? You recall how you came home to your Father, hoping that He might take you in as a servant in His house, when your eyes were opened to the reality that you were eating the food of pigs? You remember when you were still a long way off, He saw you coming, ran to embrace you and kissed you? You then said to Him "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against You and I am no longer worthy to be called Your son."  Do you remember His response? He called His servants to bring the best robe and put it on you, the robe of the Righteousness of His Son! Oh, mercy! But don't forget He called His servants to also put a ring on your finger (Luke 15:22).

Pilgrim, take the time to look at this ring. This is a ring that confers dignity and honour. It is a ring that attests to an inheritance. Do you see? The prodigal son squandered his earthly inheritance, throwing it away in Vanity Fayre. Yet the Father gives him a ring as a sign of another inheritance, an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, an inheritance in Christ.

For His Son has been appointed heir of all things (Heb 1:2). Just as Pharaoh took the signet ring off his own finger and gave it to Joseph as a sign that he was giving all authority to him, so too the Father has given all authority to the Son. The nations are His inheritance, the ends of the earth His possession (Psalm 2:8). When He returns, every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.

But it is the people He redeemed with His own blood, the people of Mount Zion, who are His own inheritance (Ps 74:2), those in whom He will be glorified when He returns! For He has given us the glory that the Father has given Him (John 17:22). “Here am I, and the children God has given me” (Heb 2:13). We, who have been made children of God, are His treasured possession (Mal 3:17)! We will sparkle in His land like jewels in a crown when He returns (Zech 9:16)! We will shine like the brightness of the heavens, like the stars for ever and ever (Dan 12:3)!

Furthermore dear Pilgrim – take heed – since you are His child, the Father has not only sent the Spirit of His Son into your heart (Gal 4:6), but He has also made you an heir (Gal 4:7). For Christ Himself is the Signet Ring – the sign and seal of the Father – the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of His being.  And so the Spirit is the seal, the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession. Though we were responsible for the Heir being killed, that His inheritance might be stripped of Him if that were possible (Mt 21:38), yet in Christ we are seated with princes and inherit a throne of honour (1 Sam 2:8)! A throne of honour! Oh, Pilgrim! What a gospel!

This throne of honour….these words I am about to share with you, precious Pilgrim, I can hardly take them in myself. Truly, as He enlightens the eyes of our heart to know the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, this can be overwhelming. Listen, Pilgrim, to the words from His own lips: “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev 3:21). Pilgrim, I would be content to lie face down forever at His feet in His Kingdom….now I discover that He will give authority over the nations to the one who is victorious and does His will to the end, just as He received authority from His Father (Rev 2:26).

Look again at the ring on your finger. This ring makes you an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ. This ring points to your inheritance. It points to Christ, to the seal of His Spirit in your heart. Fix your eyes on Christ. He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. We are co-heirs with Christ if we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory (Rom 8:16-17). If we endure we will also reign with Him (2 Tim 2:12). For the King of Kings wore a crown of thorns to point to His Kingship, and no servant is above his Master. Yet as you endure, precious Pilgrim, remember His abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness that will enable you to reign in life (Rom 5:17)! It is this that will enable you to be victorious, to continue to the end, to persevere, to overcome! 

And remember, precious Pilgrim, that the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son (Gal 4:30). Ask Him to enable you to walk in freedom through the grace He has given, that you may reign in life even as you share in His sufferings. Do not allow the thief to steal your inheritance from you! He would see you stripped of your rightful inheritance on the mountain of the Lord (Ex 15:17), he wants to prevent you from possessing the mountains (Isa 65:9). Resist the devil and he will flee, Pilgrim.  You will then find that the boundary lines have fallen for you in pleasant places, that you have a delightful inheritance. And you will walk into an inheritance that is exceedingly and immeasurably beyond your comprehension.

Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth', for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 
(Rev 21:1-7)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Dear Pilgrim, does Christ dwell in your heart through faith?

Dear Pilgrim, does Christ dwell in your heart through faith? Are you asking Him to strengthen you out of His glorious riches with power through His Spirit in your inner being, that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith (Eph 3:17)? I ask that He will do this for you and for me, Pilgrim friend, for we need Him there as we walk this pilgrim path!

You may be thinking to yourself how can Christ dwell in my heart, when the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9)? How can Christ dwell in my heart, when out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matt 15:19)? Maybe you are thinking, as I did for so many years, that you will not be blessed by seeing God for your heart is not pure (Mt 5:8). If so, the cry of your heart is the cry of the Pilgrim throughout the ages: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Ps 51:10)!

Oh Pilgrim, lift your head! Come, lift your eyes to the hills, to the mountains, from where our help comes, and come with me to the Word. What does He say?

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; 
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Eze 36:26)

Do you see, Pilgrim? That deceitful, wicked heart – He has removed it! The heart out of which come evil thoughts – He has removed it and given us a new heart! To those who hear the Word of Christ and respond by believing the gospel - the glorious gospel news that whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us, being delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification - He purifies their heart by faith (Acts 15:9)! A new heart! Blessed be His Name!

Oh, but there is more, Pilgrim. Not only does He purify our hearts – He blesses those with a pure heart that they may see God. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6). The glory of God! Oh, Pilgrim, have you seen this? Have you been emboldened as was Moses to ask of Him "Show me Your glory?" Pilgrim, this is a request He will honour...and when He will be undone. When His light shines in your heart to give you the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of will not be able to stand in His presence. Glory! Bow down! Oh, Lord, it is overwhelming….

But Pilgrim, there is still more. For He writes His law on our hearts (Jer 31:33). Not just in our minds, bringing an intellectual assent – no, He writes on the fleshly tablets of our human hearts. His finger writes not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God (2 Cor 3:3). Pilgrim, this is a fiery work, painful – as He writes, you will undergo a baptism of fire. For those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).

Pilgrim, dare you believe me when I say there is yet more? Remember we are feasting in the abundance of the house of the Lord! For He has anointed us! He has set His seal of ownership upon us (2 Cor 1:21-22)! He has adopted us as sons! And because we are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’ (Gal 4:6). The Spirit is calling out! The Spirit is one who testifies, He cannot stay silent! The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Rom 8:16). And the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father will testify of Jesus (John 15:26). He will glorify Jesus as He takes what is His, what is His Father’s, and declares it to us (John 16:14-15). Those of us who believe in the Son of God have this testimony in us (1 John 5:10)! Oh Pilgrim, this is not the testimony of any man - this is the testimony of God Himself concerning His Son! And this testimony is in us! In us - us who could only bring to Him our wicked, deceitful hearts....and He gives us a new heart into which He sends the Spirit of His Son calling out 'Abba, Father', testifying of Jesus, declaring to us all that is His. What a truth. What a glorious truth. The riches of our inheritance! Can you believe this? It is true! The hope of glory!

Oh, Pilgrim, when there is such a bounteous feast of abundance here, how can we respond in any way other than walking by the Spirit, that we may not grieve Him? How can we respond in any way other than by daily crucifying the flesh, and boasting in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to us, and us to the world (Gal 6:14)? Oh, Pilgrim, let us encourage one another to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord! And as we continue on our path, we have this hope - that we will see God revealed in all His Glory on that day when He returns! And as we await our blessed hope, let us walk with Him on the road to Emmaus, and may our hearts burn within us as He talks with us and opens the Scriptures for us!

And this is how we know that He lives in us:
we know it by the Spirit He gave us.
(1 John 3:24)