Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Dear Pilgrim, has He baptised you with fire?

Dear Pilgrim, has He baptised you with fire? He came not only to baptise with the Holy Spirit, but to baptise with fire. Have you experienced the fire of His baptism?

For the Lord our God is a consuming fire. His voice spoke out of the fire with which He set Mount Sinai ablaze, and terrified the people of Israel. Ezekiel saw a vision of the likeness of the glory of God. He saw high above on the throne a figure like that of a man, who from His waist up looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and from there down He looked like fire (Ezekiel 1:27). Daniel saw a vision of the Ancient of Days. His throne was flaming with fire, its wheels were all ablaze, whilst a river of fire was flowing, coming out from before Him (Daniel 7:9-10). O Pilgrim, our God is a consuming fire!

He is a God who answers by fire. He answered by fire when Elijah called out to Him from Mount Carmel that the people might know He was the God of Israel. The fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, which were all drenched in water (1 Kings 18:36-38), for He makes flames of fire His servants.

He is a God whose fire burns amongst His people. O Pilgrim, come with me to Taberah – the place of burning. See the Israelites, redeemed out of the hands of their enemies, brought to the wilderness. They have just left the base of Mount Sinai from where God has been speaking to them out of the fire, and now just 3 days into their journey to the promised land, they are complaining of their hardships. See, Pilgrim, He has heard their complaining and it has aroused His anger. Look, Pilgrim – how fire from the Lord has come and has burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of their camp. But listen, Pilgrim – they are crying out to Moses, and now he is crying out to the Lord – and the fire has died down (Numbers 11:1-3).

O Pilgrim, what a picture, what a picture for us of Christ. Yet first, He had a baptism of His own to undergo. For the wrath of God burns like fire against all sin, and so the Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, was roasted over a fire of wrath as He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross. But just as the bush did not burn up even though it was on fire, just as the four men in the blazing furnace were untouched by the flames, so our Lamb of God was not consumed by the fiery furnace of wrath, but emerged triumphant and victorious from the grave! And now we can cry out to Jesus to deliver us from the fires of the wrath of God!

Saved from the fires of the wrath of God – yet everyone will be salted with fire (Mark 9:49). Now that we have been saved from the fires of His wrath, what is this fire with which we will be salted? Pilgrim, is it not the fires of His jealousy? For He says, “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her” (Zechariah 8:2). The Bride calls out to her beloved, “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 Songs 8:6). For we have been promised to one husband, Christ, and we are to be presented as a pure virgin to Him. So the Lord will wash away the filth from Zion; He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. 

O Pilgrim, would you return to the Garden of Eden, the Garden on the mountain from which man fell? Would you return to the Garden that He planted, that you may walk with Him, in unity with Him? Then you must walk through the flaming sword that flashes back and forth guarding the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). The flaming sword fell on Him as He died our death, paying the penalty for our sin. We must also walk through the flaming sword, the sword of fire, as we die with Him that we may also live with Him.

Come, Pilgrim, come to the refiner’s fire! For after He provided the sacrifice for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, and now He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, as He refines us like gold and silver (Malachi 3:2-3). He sits, paying careful, unhurried attention to His task, as all the impurities are burned away through the grief we may have had to suffer in all kinds of trials, that we might better reflect His glory. He counsels us to come and buy from Him gold refined in the fire, that we might become rich. Take heart from His words of comfort to us, that when we walk through the fire, we will not be burned; the flames will not set us ablaze, for He will be with us (Isaiah 43:2). O Pilgrim, rejoice that He would take such care and attention over His Bride, that we might be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him when He returns in blazing fire!

For it is only as incense is burned that its fragrance rises as a pleasing aroma. It is only as the oil in the lamp burns that the light shines in the darkness. It is He who keeps our lamps burning, it is He who keeps the incense burning. And as His Word burns like fire, we will find that our hearts burn within us as our Refiner talks with us and opens the Scriptures to us.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you seen His glory?

Dear Pilgrim, have you seen His glory? Just as Moses was emboldened, have you asked Him to show you His glory (Exodus 33:18)? Have you desired to see His glory?

Pilgrim, because you take delight in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). He fulfils the desires of those who fear Him (Psalm 145:19). If you desire to see His glory, this is a request He will honour. Pilgrim, will you be bold and ask Him to show you His glory? Even though you are nothing but dust and ashes, you can be so bold as to make such a request. For your confidence does not come from yourself, but through Christ. In Christ and through faith in Him you may approach God with freedom and confidence! Will you be bold to ask Him to show you His glory? The God who reveals Himself to those who did not ask for Him will surely delight to reveal Himself to those who desire to see His glory.

The Lord revealed His glory to Moses on the mountain (Exodus 34:2). It is on the mountains that the Lord reveals Himself! Ascend the mountain, Pilgrim, and present yourself to Him…and He will come.

But first, hide yourself in the cleft of the rock, dear Pilgrim, for no-one may see His face and live.

Come, climb up, Pilgrim, higher, still higher, keep going….oh, persevere now, dear Pilgrim! The climb is difficult, but it must be done. Here now, here is the cleft in the rock. Come, take shelter. Hide in the cleft of the Rock, Pilgrim. See, the glory of the Lord is about to pass by (Exodus 33:22).

This rock…my Rock, my Saviour (Psalm 18:46)! My Rock, my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14)! The Rock of our Salvation (Psalm 95:1)! Could it be that this cleft in the Rock is pointing to the One who is the mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus?

This rock… He made water flow for His people who drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them in the desert, that rock which was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). He split the rock and water gushed out (Isaiah 48:21) – and as Jesus died on the cross, a spear split His side and water gushed out (John 19:34).

This rock…this rock that makes those who do not believe fall, because they do not obey the message of salvation (1 Peter 2:8).

O Pilgrim, this cleft in the Rock…it too is filled with glory! Shield your eyes, Pilgrim! Fall to your knees! The glory of the Rock…..the glory of Christ!

For He had glory with the Father before the world began (John 17:5). When He became flesh and made His dwelling among us, His glory was seen, the glory of the Only Begotten Son (John 1:14). His glory was revealed at His birth, when the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds in the fields nearby, and a great company of the heavenly host appeared, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest!” (Luke 2:13-14). He revealed His glory when He performed the first of His miraculous signs at Cana in Galilee, when He changed water into wine (John 2:11). He was glorified when He raised Lazarus to life (John 11:4). He revealed His glory when He was transfigured on a high mountain (Luke 9:32). He will come in His glory when He returns to earth, and He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory (Matthew 25:31). He is the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). We see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6)!

O Pilgrim! Is your reaction to this the same as the apostle John when he had a revelation of the glory of Jesus (Revelation 1:12-16): “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). Is your reaction to this the same as the apostle Simon Peter who, when he had a revelation of the glory of Jesus, fell at His knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). For when we receive a revelation of His glory, we realise how far short we have fallen of His glory. His glory reveals to us our sin. The light of His glory exposes our darkness.

Feel the weight of His glory, Pilgrim. Feel it. Allow Him to reveal His glory to you, that you might clearly see all that He is, even as you lie face down on the ground at His feet. Then allow Him to touch you and to tell you not to fear (Revelation 1:17) and remind you of the hope you have for the future – for that day when our bodies of sin will finally be destroyed, and as part of the bride of Christ, clothed in our glorified bodies, we will be able to sit down at the wedding feast of the Lamb, and see Him face to face! Allow Him to raise you to your feet, to send you out to do good works that He has prepared in advance for you to walk in, able to proclaim with David, “I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory” (Psalm 63:2), glorifying Him with your lips. And as you go out into the darkness, where thick darkness is over the peoples, the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear over you (Isaiah 60:2).

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Dear Pilgrim, what measure are you using?

Dear Pilgrim, what measure are you using? Is it a generous helping, pressed down, shaken together and running over? Is it a full measure in response to the full measure He has poured upon you?

For He has not treated us as our sins deserve, or repaid us according to our iniquities (Ps 103:10). For the Lord our God weighs our deeds, our motives, and our hearts – and in all cases we were weighed on the scales and we were found wanting. But where sin and wickedness increased, the grace of God increased all the more. For it was His Servant who drank the full strength of the cup of wrath as all our sins were laid upon Him. It was He who received the full measure of all that our sins and iniquities deserved. Oh, Pilgrim, let our tears overflow as we take in this glorious gospel truth. For He has not given us just grace and a gift through Jesus Christ – He has given us an abundant provision of grace, an abundant provision of the gift of life that we might reign in life through Jesus Christ (Rom 5:17)! As Boaz poured into Ruth’s shawl six measures, six whole measures, of barley when she approached her kinsman-redeemer seeking His favour (Ruth 3:15), so this points to the abundant provision that is poured into us as we approach our Kinsman-Redeemer seeking His favour!

For the grace of our Lord has been poured out on us abundantly! God is rich in mercy, and in Christ we have been given mercy in abundance (Jude 1:2)! Faith, love and peace are also ours in abundance! How abundant are the good things that He has stored up for those who fear Him, that He bestows in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in Him (Ps 31:19)! Let us celebrate His abundant goodness and joyfully sing of His righteousness (Ps 145:7)!

For it is His desire to give a full measure. Jesus wanted His disciples to have the full measure of His joy within them (John 17:13). Paul prays that the Ephesians might not only have the power to grasp the love of God, but that they would know the love of God,  that they might be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3:18-19). As the fullness of the Deity lives in Christ in bodily form, so too in Christ we have been brought to fullness (Col 2:9-10). Oh, Pilgrim, listen to that again – as the fullness of the Deity lives in Christ in bodily form, so too in Christ we have been brought to fullness. Fullness! Oh, Pilgrim, are we filled with the fullness of Christ?

Just as Jesus filled the jars with water to the brim in Capernaum, so too He longs to fill us to the brim with His Holy Spirit, that rivers of living water may flow from us. Let us ask Him to fill us with the Holy Spirit, that we may be filled to the brim! And as our love abounds more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, we will be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – for all those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled! As we come to Christ, He will fill us with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Pe 1:8), He will fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13). Oh, Pilgrim, be filled, be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God!

For we worship a God who fills heaven and earth (Jer 23:24). Christ descended to the lower, earthly regions, and He ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe (Eph 4:10). And there is a day coming when Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit (Isa 27:6). There is a day coming when the vineyard will be fruitful, and the world will sing about it as the Lord watches over it, watering it continually. The wedding hall will be filled with guests (Mt 22:10), it will be filled with the fragrance of perfume (John 12:3), it will be filled with His love (Ps 119:64), it will be filled with glorious sounds of praise coming from the mouths of those whose lips are filled with His praise, declaring His splendour all day long (Ps 71:8) – it will be filled with the glory of God!

Pilgrim, as we look for this day to come, let us ensure that we are living as children of the Most High God, using the same measure as the measure we have been given. Let us never be satisfied with anything less than a full measure! Let us make sure we are not those who would skimp on the measure (Amos 8:5). Let us love our enemies, let us show mercy, let us forgive and let us give, not holding anything back. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them (Mt 25:29). So let us abound in every good work, for our comfort abounds in Christ.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you received the embrace of your Father?

 Prodigal Son by Charlie Mackesy
Prodigal Son by Charlie Mackesy

Dear Pilgrim, have you received the embrace of your Father? Have you received the comfort, the hope, the feeling of safety and the encouragement that only the warmth of His embrace can give you?

O Pilgrim, it is one thing to have been made aware that His embrace is there for you. It is another thing entirely to receive it. It is one thing to know that the love the Father has lavished on us is so great that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1). It is another thing entirely to know that this is what you are, to have experienced the loving embrace that only a Father can give to His child. It is one thing to know that the Father loves you because you have loved His Son and have believed that He came from God (John 16:27). It is another thing entirely to have rested your head against the breast of your Father as His arms reach around you and hold you close.

Pilgrim, do not allow timidity to hold you back from your Father’s embrace. As you approach your Father, you are coming not in your own righteousness, but clothed in the righteousness of His Son. For this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10). In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)! We have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus! Jacob approached his father to obtain a blessing from him, covered by his brother’s robe. When his father caught the smell of his clothes, he proceeded to pour out his blessing upon his son. Pilgrim, what a picture this is for us of how we approach our heavenly Father!

Pilgrim, maybe it has been so many years since you have ever known what a father’s embrace feels like, maybe you have experienced so much loss, so much heartache and pain, that you dare not come close for fear of being overwhelmed. O precious Pilgrim, will you come with me to Goshen?

Goshen, in Egypt – the place to which God had sent Joseph, to preserve a remnant and to save lives by a great deliverance. A place of separation from his father with whom he had enjoyed a special love, for he was the beloved son of his father. This separation had lasted many years, and had caused much pain for Joseph. But what the enemy had intended for harm, God intended for good. For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). And God arranged for the beloved son to be reunited with his father. As Jacob travelled to Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to meet him. O Pilgrim, how do you think Joseph was feeling, as he went to meet his father after all those years? All those emotions flooding through him…and as he finally set eyes upon his dearly loved father, as he presented himself before his father, his emotions poured out of him and he fell on his father’s neck and wept for a long time (Genesis 46:29). Oh, praise the living God for bringing about such a reconciliation!

Do you see, Pilgrim, how far the father travelled to be reconciled to his son? Jacob travelled all the way from the land of Canaan to Goshen for this reconciliation. It was not Joseph who travelled to Canaan, rather, his father came to him. O Pilgrim, do you see? Just like in the parable of the prodigal son, as soon as the son got up and went to his father, even whilst he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. His father had been waiting, longing, for his return all those years. And as soon as he saw him, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20)! Pilgrim, it was the father who ran to the son! Oh, what a God!

Yet, Pilgrim, it can still be possible to know all this and yet still to have not experienced it. For it requires the work of the Holy Spirit deep in our hearts, it requires God to send the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6). And when this happens, dear Pilgrim, oh! The assurance He brings! The confidence He brings! The hope He brings! The warmth of His embrace is truly like no other!

May we cry out to Him that the Spirit never ceases to cry out, “Abba, Father!” from within our hearts, so that we may truly understand what it means to be a child of God, and may the Spirit Himself testify with our spirits that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16). May we then be able to declare that “His right arm embraces me” (Song of Songs 2:6), and live in the confidence that this brings! 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good?

Scripture artwork from

Dear Pilgrim, have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good?

Have you passed through the Valley of Eshkol? Do you recall seeing the results of the exploration of the land of Canaan, the land of promise into which the Lord God was bringing His chosen people? Do you remember how it took two men to carry a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes from this land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:23)? A single cluster of grapes, carried by two men! Oh, it was in the Valley of Eshkol, the Valley of cluster, that you first tasted and saw that the Lord is good!

You have discovered that the One you love is like an apple tree amongst the trees of the forest, and you delight to sit in His shade, for His fruit is sweet to your taste (Song of Songs 2:3). You have tasted His words, the words of the One who tasted death for you (Hebrews 2:9), and you have found them to be sweeter than honey to your mouth (Psalm 119:103). You have discovered that His fruit is better than fine gold, that what He yields surpasses choice silver (Proverbs 8:19). You have tasted that He is good, and you crave to be filled with more so that you may grow up in your salvation. You have dwelt in His garden, and you have seen that it is good. You have taken the time to browse amongst the trees and the plants in this glorious garden of His, flowing with streams of water, that have produced the choicest of fruits, foliage in abundance, richness of colour and a fragrance beyond compare. This is a garden set atop a mountain, for it is the mountains that bring prosperity to the peoples, and the hills the fruit of righteousness (Psalm 72:3). This well-watered garden has a river flowing through it which separates into four headwaters. The Pishon river gives the increase and is full-flowing. The Gihon river bursts forth and gushes through the garden. The Tigris is a swift, rapid darting river, whilst the Euphrates is sweet and fruitful. When the garden is so abundantly provided for, dear Pilgrim, is it any wonder that the fruit that comes forth from this garden is as rich and sweet as it is?

As you have delighted in His shade, your own mustard seed of faith has been planted in the fertile soil of His garden. As you have eaten with joy all He has provided for you, your roots have grown and stretched further and further into these flowing streams of life-giving water. Without your even noticing, the Vine has been wrapping itself tightly around your branches and bearing more and more fruit. For your Father is the Gardener.  How He patiently tends and cares for His plants in His garden! He loves to walk in His garden in the cool of the day, examining the growth that He sees, pruning those branches which are bearing fruit that they might produce an abundance, digging around and fertilizing those trees that are not yet bearing fruit, patiently giving time for growth to occur.

He is also a Jealous Gardener. You are a garden locked-up, a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain (Song of Songs 4:12). He is Jealous that the fruit which comes from you is pure, holy and righteous, rich to the taste and lacking in no good thing. Oh, how important it is that your roots reach out to Him alone! Pilgrim, resist the temptation to seek out any other fruitless source of water, which will cause a failure to thrive and new growth to wither. Send out your roots to Him alone and you will bear the fruit of light which consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9). Lift up your branches for His eyes alone, not seeking the approval of men, and you will find yourself standing firm and strong before Him, an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour (Isaiah 61:3).

And you will find that He will breathe upon you that your fragrance might spread everywhere. For the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives (Proverbs 11:30). It is His desire that there be many plants in His garden, that it be teeming with all kinds of trees, trees that are pleasing to the eye and good to the taste, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

For it is He who will come into His own garden and taste of its choice fruits (Song of Songs 4:16)! The One who was betrayed by a kiss in a garden will come into His own garden to gather its fruit which has faithfully been growing in Him. The One whose body was laid in a new tomb in a garden, the One who was mistaken for the gardener when He arose, He is the True Vine and His Father is the Gardener. Oh, abide in Him, dear Pilgrim! Abide in Him, and you will bear much fruit, to your Father’s glory! For as the soil makes the young plant come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations (Isaiah 61:11)!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Dear Pilgrim, are you struggling with condemnation?

Dear Pilgrim, are you struggling with condemnation? Are voices whispering to you that you are no good, leaving you in despair? Are you feeling crushed in your spirit?

O Pilgrim, how I understand! But come, take my hand, let us walk together awhile. There is somewhere we need to go that maybe you haven’t been to lately. Come, into this garden. Breathe in the fragrance of the garden, Pilgrim. Take a deep breath. Isn’t it peaceful and quiet in here?

Come, over here, dear Pilgrim. See the rock….and the tomb hewn from the rock, the tomb where Jesus was laid. See the stone, removed from the entrance. See the strips of linen lying there, and the burial cloth that had been around His head folded up by itself, separate from the linen. See the tomb – empty. It is empty, dear Pilgrim! For He is not here – He has risen!  For God exerted His mighty strength in Christ and raised Him from the dead (Ephesians 1:19)! God has raised this Jesus to life!

We are not far from where you beheld the Lamb of God as He died upon the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, paying the wages of death for your sin. But how easily we forget to walk to the empty tomb to see the victory that has been won! This is the place the enemy will want to keep you from coming, he will do all he can to distract you from coming here, walking around, spending time reflecting on all this means – for this is the place of our Lord’s great victory!

For the truth of this glorious gospel message into which we have been brought by the blood of the Lamb does not end with the blessed news that our sins and iniquities have been forgiven. O Pilgrim, let your eyes behold the revelation of the empty tomb which speaks of new life! The revelation of the empty tomb which speaks of the power of the Spirit! The revelation of the empty tomb which speaks of the victory that He has won!

For if we have been baptised into Christ, we have been baptised into His death. Our whole old self was crucified with Him! Not only were we baptised into the death of Christ – we were buried with Him. Our whole old self is crucified, dead and buried. It no longer has power over us! We no longer identify with it! It is defeated!  We were buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life! A new life, Pilgrim! No longer a life of slavery to sin, a life of captivity, a life without hope, a life that was no life for it led to death. No matter how many times the enemy tries to whisper to you that you have no hope, that you cannot escape the clutches of sin, that you are guilty, the truth is that now that we have died we have been set free from sin (Romans 6:7)! Yes, Pilgrim, we do daily still wrestle with sin, we daily have to fight against sin, but it is no longer our master! For we have been set free from the power of sin! Set free from the guilt of sin! Set free from the penalty of sin! Set free from the slavery of sin! It was for freedom that Christ has set us free! O Pilgrim, rejoice that your chains are gone! Gone! No longer a slave – a son! A child of God!

Pilgrim, as we stand here in the garden, listen for a moment. Listen. It is so peaceful here, isn’t it? The birds are singing their praises to their Creator, but otherwise all is quiet. It was quiet on those days when Jesus lay here in the tomb. Maybe some thought it was the quiet despair of defeat. It may have looked like defeat, as the Creator bowed His head and breathed His last. It may have looked like defeat, as His lifeless body lay in the tomb for three days. It may have looked like defeat, as all was silent. But His final words, “It is finished!” continued to ring with the glorious sounds of triumph and victory as they resounded through the heavens, as they made the powers and authorities shudder in fear. And then, in the fullness of time, the Voice of the Lord spoke, and shook the earth. The Voice of the Lord thundered, and there was a violent earthquake, the Son of God was raised to life – for it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him. The power of the Spirit raised Him to life! Victory! But not His victory alone! For thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57)! We have been raised up and seated with Christ in the heavenly realms! We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!

Pilgrim, listen again. Listen. What do you hear? There is only one word to describe it – peace. Peace, dear Pilgrim! For this empty tomb – the victory He has won, the victory He gives to us – this means we have peace with God! What were the very first words He uttered to His disciples after He arose? “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). Who is the one who condemns? Not God! For Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God, interceding for us (Romans 8:34). Interceding, Pilgrim, not condemning! There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1). You are free, free from the law of sin and death, free to put to death the misdeeds of the body, free to be led by the Spirit of God, free to overcome the world!

Pilgrim, never forget the empty tomb. The enemy will do all he can to keep you from standing here and taking in all that it means, for it is here that it is clear for all to see that he is defeated. Resist him, and he will flee! And may the truth of the empty tomb be forever engraved on your heart.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Dear Pilgrim, when He comes, will He find faith on the earth?

Mount Carmel ("the vineyard of God")

Dear Pilgrim, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?

O Pilgrim, it is a challenging word that He has brought to us. He told us that many will turn away from the faith in times of trouble. For it is true that not everyone has faith.

Yet Pilgrim, we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). And Pilgrim, your ears have been opened by the One who looked up to heaven with a deep sigh and said, “Ephphatha!”(Mark 7:34).  You have heard His voice, you have heard the Word of God!

Pilgrim, come with me, come up Mount Carmel, come and see a man of faith. Elijah has heard and received the word of God, that rain is coming, and in faith he announces to Ahab that there is the sound of an abundance of rain (1 Kings 18:41). Three years of drought, three years where neither dew nor rain had fallen in the land, and now an abundance of rain is proclaimed because of the word of the Lord! For this was a man who lived by faith, and not by sight.

Look, Pilgrim! Here, on the top of the mountain, the place where God reveals Himself, the man of God has bowed down on the ground, with his face between his knees. He is praying to his God, Pilgrim. What does a man of God pray in such a situation? These words come to mind: “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope” (Psalm 119:49). He asks his servant to go and look towards the sea, that their eyes might see the word of the Lord come to pass. His servant looks, comes back, and says, “There is nothing”. There is no sign.

Elijah continues to pray. He continues to trust in the word of the Lord. He continues to trust in the faithfulness of his God. For no word from God will ever fail (Luke 1:37). Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens (Psalm 119:89). A second time he asks his servant to report what he sees – nothing.

Undaunted, the man of faith in such a situation reminds himself that “the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does” (Psalm 33:4). “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6). A third time he asks his servant what he sees – nothing.

Faithfully, the man of God, who perseveres in prayer at His throne, cries out, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5). He calls to mind familiar words of Scripture and brings them before the Lord in humble submission: “My word that goes out from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). A fourth time there is no response to his prayers.

Still he does not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but he is strengthened in his faith and gives glory to God, for he is fully persuaded that God has the power to do what He has promised (Romans 4:20-21). He knows that even though heaven and earth may pass away, His words will never pass away (Mark 13:31). A fifth time he is told there is still no sign.

He holds unswervingly to his hope, for he knows that He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23), and he prays aloud for all to hear, “As for God, His way is perfect: the Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him” (2 Samuel 22:31). As he prays, he takes up his shield of faith to extinguish the flaming arrows from the evil one, who is whispering, “Did God really say He would send rain?” A sixth time the servant goes to look towards the sea. Nothing.

The man of faith continues knocking, continues seeking, continues asking that the Lord bring to pass the word He has spoken.  He knows that God will bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night. He knows that the Lord will not keep putting them off, that His God will see that they get justice, and quickly (Luke 18:7-8). A seventh time the servant goes to look towards the sea.

The servant comes running back to the man of God, breathless with excitement! He has seen something! Oh! An abundance of rain is the promise. What is it that can be seen? The skies filled with ominous dark clouds? No – a single cloud! A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea! Do not despise the day of small things, dear Pilgrim! For from this cloud as small as a man’s hand, an abundance of rain will fall over the land! Rejoice that the Lord has heard your cry!

Dear Pilgrim, here, atop Mount Carmel, the mountain of faith, the mountain of belief, He has tested your faith and has produced perseverance as a result! What a thing of beauty your faith in Him is! Is it any wonder that Mount Carmel is known as a mountain of splendour (Isaiah 35:2)? And now, dear Pilgrim, you can join the Psalmist in this victorious cry: “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).

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 (

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.