Category Archives: Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God and the principles which we are to seek and live by.

What’s In Your Scope? (Pt. 2)

Paul’s exhortation is that we “scope in” on the things that are unseen—eternal things—not on the things that are seen, which are temporal.

The same Greek verb skopeo is used a few other times in Scripture, though not often.  Here is one more instance that really speaks to me from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2.4).

There’s our word again.  Look—consider, heed carefully… scope.  This is what is to be in our scope, fellow Christian—not always our own things, but the things of others also.  The problems, the concerns, the needs, the hopes—of others.  I mentioned last time that when you are looking into a scope you are pretty much oblivious to all else.  That’s all you see.  That’s certainly the way it is when it’s our own problems and concerns that fill our scope.  We are more or less oblivious to all else.  In fact it becomes a kind of captivity, as I recall David Wilkerson once saying, when our Enemy has succeeded in causing us to be always preoccupied with our own problems, and the needs of our brother and our sister are scarcely on our radar.  That is great defeat to the body of Christ, Wilkerson said.

How wonderful and liberating, and victorious, then—when we are scoped in on the concerns of others.  Oh, to see this in operation in the body of Christ—the love that makes us as focused on the things of our brother and sister as we were on our own things—and they showing the same care for you and me.  It’s the liberty of love—release from the shackles of self, being freed up to serve others and their interests.

I also recall reading wheelchair-bound quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada saying that the thing she found most difficult about her affliction was the temptation to be always turned inward on herself.  She said she had to discipline herself strictly to keep from doing so.

Let us do the same.  We need to be earnestly seeking the Lord for the grace to “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

It appears Paul’s friend Timothy was such a man.  Paul spoke highly of Timothy, telling the Philippians a little further on in his letter to them, “I have no man likeminded, who will naturally (that is, genuinely) care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phil. 2.21).

What is the evidence that Timothy is seeking the things of Jesus Christ?  He genuinely cares for the state of the saints.

So—these two, which really are one and the same, I think.

1) Keeping in our scope that which is unseen, the Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom that ruleth over all; and,

2) Being preoccupied with His interests—the things of others.

Let’s get these two in our sights with binocular vision—and keep them there!

How’s Your Sowing Coming Along?

As we head into 2012 we are hearing once again the beat of war drums.  Iran is threatening that if the United States embargos Iran’s oil, Iran will blockade the Strait of Hormuz so that the commerce of other nations cannot get through the Persian Gulf either.  In return, the United States is threatening that any such action by Iran will be swiftly met with military reprisal.

I don’t know where all this will go, but it would not surprise me to see the situation grow into full-scale war that many nations get drawn into.  We live in an extremely unstable world—a world that is headed into what Scripture calls the Evil Day.

Of course there has been evil in the world from the day the Serpent beguiled Eve, and following suit, Adam deliberately disobeyed God.  But there comes a time when evil comes to fruition, and there is a harvest of evil.  Surely we are already very close to that time.  Things are moving so quickly.  It’s frightening the way we have seen evil increase in just one generation.

I know this makes us fearful, anxious.  But in a sense this is very encouraging.  For, when the crop is ripe, what happens next?

“When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed forever” (Ps. 92.7).

What happens when the harvest is ripe?  It gets cut down.  Is evil flourishing in our day?  We know what is next, then.  God is going to get his sickle out and cut it all down.  He is going to totally eradicate wickedness from His world.

His way of doing this is to first let evil come to fruition.  And we are there.  Everywhere you look there is a sense of ripeness about things.  We certainly see this in the churches.  Deception abounds in many churches.  How can it be otherwise?  The red carpet has been long since rolled out for the ways and works of man.  Why the surprise, then, when it all comes to a head, and the man of iniquity walks down the aisle and sets himself up as god in the temple of God, and is worshipped by multitudes?  For, when God’s people do not receive the love of the truth, He gives them over to believe the lie.

And out there in the world?  What is growing out there in the field of the world?  Simply put, it is everything men are doing to build a world that leaves God out.  And this also comes to a head.  When the God of order and the Prince of peace is left out, what will be the harvest?  War… worldwide upheaval… anarchy… chaos.

But never mind what’s growing out there in the field of the nations.  Remember the riots this year in the streets of orderly societies?  Not only in the Arab countries, but right in our orderly societies—Canada, England.  People are appalled, but think this through.  How can there be order in any society when the people who live in that society want nothing to do with the God of order?  God lifts His restraint then, and… what a shock!  Where did that come from?

One thing we must have absolute confidence in is this.  What a man sows he shall reap.  Man has been sowing evil with both hands—and he is going to see the harvest of evil.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”  You can’t mock God—you can’t have a secret love affair with evil and expect good in return.  “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption…” Frightening thought, isn’t it.

But let’s continue reading.   “…But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6.7,8).  Now, that’s encouraging!

And so, fellow Christian, how is your sowing coming along?  Do you feel at times that it hasn’t amounted to much so far?  Not much fruit yet?  You are beginning to think that it’s no use, what God has promised is not going to materialize?  You mean you believe God will be mocked after all?  He will not be mocked.  What you sow you shall reap.  Keep sowing, then!  Keep watering!  Don’t give up!

“And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6.9).

We shall reap!  Let us not be afraid of what we see happening in our world.  In the same Evil Day that yields to man his harvest of evil, another harvest is about to be reaped—the harvest of the word of God you and I have planted and watered in our lives and the lives of others.

Expectations For 2012

About this time of year the prophets take advantage of the opportunity to once again favour us with their annual forecasts.  If you think you might be detecting a flavour of cynicism here, I commend you on your discernment.  Over the years I have become very skeptical about much of this, especially the offerings that the popular Charismatic prophets put forth as they compete with one another in wooing the people.  I have observed that, a) most of the things they tell us will happen in the coming year do not happen; and, b) they rarely if ever prophesy the things that actually do happen.

We are not to despise prophesyings; my heart is open to hear a truly prophetic word.  But all too often we neglect to read the next verse in Paul’s exhortation.  Yes, he said, “Despise not prophesyings.”  But immediately following this he adds, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thes. 5.20,21).  So, we are not to swallow whole all that the prophets set before us; we are to test what they say, prove what they say—and hold fast only that which is good.  How can we do this?  How can we discern the true from the false?  Only by drawing very close to the Lord ourselves and seeking to cultivate a hearing heart—the kind of hearing that comes only to the one who has offered his whole life to God on the altar of burnt sacrifice.

I don’t have a prophetic gifting myself.  But as one who seeks to steep his life in the word of God and stay awake on his watch, I believe I can say confidently that the coming year will continue to see great shakings—both in the world and in the church.  This is both a warning and a promise.  A warning, because those whose lives are not right with God dread the prospect of shakings.  A promise, because those who love Him anticipate the shakings.  They may not feel very capable in themselves to go through hard things.  But even so, they trust their God to bring them through, so they anticipate what is ahead.  For, the shakings mean that the faithful God is at work.  He has promised to shake all that can be shaken, and remove all that can be shaken, and bring in a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12.27-29).  God is a God of judgment, and His judgments are being released, as we have seen over the last few years.  To the haters of God this is deeply resented.  But, “Zion heard and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of Thy judgments, O LORD” (Ps. 97.8).

God needs no one to defend Him from His accusers—those who charge that the Christians’ God is a vindictive God, that His judgments are not just.  But let me remind you that the God of love is a God of righteousness.  He hates evil.  He is deeply pained with what evil has done in His world.  Yes, He is patient and longsuffering beyond our capacity to comprehend—so much so, that those whose rule of life is to do as they please assure themselves that God (if He even exists) obviously never interferes with this world of theirs.  But God is not going to endure evil forever.  He is going to roll up His sleeves, and when He is finished no evil will be found in this world of His.  None whatsoever.  He is going to deal with all evil—once and for all.  In fact at the Cross He already did that.  And He intends to bring the judgment of the Cross fully to bear upon the whole world.  For some this is bad news.

But for others, this is good news; it means our salvation.  What did the days of the flood mean to Noah and the ark?  It was the time of salvation for those in the ark.  And when judgments were being meted out on Egypt, it was because a great salvation was in the works.  There was darkness over Egypt so thick it could be felt.  But the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

So is the Day of the Lord.  Some dread the sunup of this Day.  It means the end of their night of pleasure—the pleasure of self-will and sin, I mean.  “Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal. 4.1).  But for others—those who fear the Name of the Lord—the same Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings.  And they go forth leaping as calves let out of the stall.

And so, come what may, good things are before us.  Let us seek to nourish this sense of anticipation in one another.  Personally I look forward to the coming year.  Our world is shrouded in night—in thick darkness.  And I, little child that I am… I am afraid of the dark.  I don’t know how much longer I can endure any darkness.  But I have hope.  The night is far spent, the Day is at hand!  There is a beautiful passage in Job, in which God describes the coming of the morning as the dayspring taking hold of the ends of the earth and shaking the wicked out of it—like someone shaking the dust out of a carpet (Job 38.12,13).  That’s what I anticipate—the Sun of righteousness arising and shaking the darkness and wickedness out of the earth.  I am weary of wickedness, and of the darkness that has provided the wicked with a cloak.

And so when the shakings come—and they will surely come—let us remember Who it is that is housecleaning, and has hold of the end of the carpet.

When I Consider Thy Heavens

I have been thinking about those ancient stargazers who saw the sign in the heavens announcing the birth of the Great King.  It’s intriguing to me that they were able to look upward and understand so much.  What is written in the heavens was like a second language to them.  This should not surprise us.  God said right from the beginning that the lights He created in the firmament of the heavens were “for signs, and for seasons…” (Gen. 1.14).  These men knew how to read those signs.

We have largely lost the ability to do that now, and I am not suggesting we turn to modern astrology, and horoscopes, and the like, to try to get that ability back.  It is a heavenly language that the stars speak, and only God Himself can give the interpretation.

God Himself has testified as much, as our Bible records.  He challenged Job, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades (the seven stars), or loose the bands of Orion?  Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth (the twelve signs, each) in its season?  Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?  Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?  Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? (Job 38.31,32).

This challenge left Job feeling pretty ignorant, as it leaves me also.  But one thing is clear. Completely apart from the deception of modern astrology, the heavens display wondrous messages from God for us.

The shepherd David realized this back in the days when our Bible was still being built.  While watching his sheep at night he would look up into the starry sky and write down his thoughts.

“The heavens declare the glory of the LORD,” he wrote, “and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowlege” (Ps. 19.1).

That’s very interesting.  Not, “day after day,” not “night after night,” but “day unto day,” “night unto night.”  The night sky corresponds to the time of night we now live in, the moon being the church, the bride of Christ; and the stars her children—the “children of the Day,” shining forth in the night the glory of the Lord in differing degrees of glory.  And the sun in the daytime?  I marvel at what David said about the sun.  This had to be purely by revelation from God.  For he said that the sky was “a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race” (Ps. 19.5).

The Bridegroom comes out of His chamber of night rejoicing for the contest before Him.  It’s the day of Christ, the great Day of the Lord over which He rules, and He shines forth in powerful Light– and heat. “And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”  It is going to be a very hot day.  We are well advised to be prepared for it– and seek a Shady Place.

Back to that other skywatcher David, out watching his sheep at night again, always totally awed by what he is seeing.

“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him?”

David was so humbled by what he was seeing—and so am I when I look upward.  I can barely read that heavenly language, but when I look up into the heavens on a starry night, I am held in awe, and humbled.  It’s so humbling to look up.

Let us do that often, then!

“What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him?”

How wondrous.  This majestic God who created the sun and the stars and set them in the vast expanse of a universe past finding out is not only mindful of us.  He has visited us.

And He is going to do so again.

The Conflict Of Two Ages

We Christians in this present age are to live the life of another age.  We now have that life of the age to come—eternal life—in seed form, and the more we fall into the ground and die as the original Seed Himself fell into the ground and died, the more do we sow unto eternal life, the more do we release that eternal life to break forth.  Christ and His apostles demonstrated that we are to be totally sold out to this, totally given over to this, and ever wary of the traps and snares that would rob us of it.  When we end up living a merely natural earthly life and are captivated by what John calls “the pride of life,” just living a worldly life enjoying earthly and worldly pleasures, we end up the greatest of all losers.  Jesus time and again warned that those who love their lives in this age would end up losing it.

But at the same time He promised that those who in this age lose their life for His sake and the Gospel’s… will find it.

This is clear.  The lot of those who in this age take up their cross and follow Jesus—our lot will be suffering and persecution in this age.  We Christians in western lands very deeply need an awakening in this area.  This is what the Christian life and walk is all about.  “Yea, and all they who will live godly in this present age shall suffer persecution” (Tit. 2.12).  Even so.  But in the midst of it we have the assurance that the eternal life we now have in seed form will burst into fruit… later.

“…Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake land the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the age to come life eternal” (Mk. 10.29,30).

What is Jesus talking about here?  I believe it can be summed up by saying that whatever losses we suffer from an earthly perspective are more than made up by the family of God we are now born into, and the house of God we now become a part of—even though we are also granted a portion of their sufferings.  But while that is our lot here, we have the wondrous promise: “…and in the age to come life eternal.”

What is life, then?  All that this present world has to offer?  That is not real life.  “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12.15).  In fact Jesus said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood ye have no life in you.”

That is quite the statement.  According to Jesus, it is only eternal life that is real life.  Jesus said, “Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life…”  That is real life—partaking of Christ, eating His flesh, drinking His blood.

But what are the implications of eating His flesh and drinking His blood?  This is surely to partake of His sufferings, as He showed the disciples when He broke the bread and passed around the cup during the Last Supper.  To eat His flesh and drink His blood—this is the “fellowship of His sufferings.”

But what is the ultimate lot then, or the one who eats His flesh and drinks His blood? He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day” (Jn. 6.53,54).

How deeply we in our land, and in our day, need an awakening to this realization.  This is what the Christian life and walk is all about in this age—the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus Christ.  It is our calling to live in this age according to the order of an age to come, to live the Life of the ages here in this present life.  And this is going to mean trouble for us in this world, for it means conflict with this world.  For these two ages are diametrically opposed to one another.  While living in this age, we are to be nourished by the passions of the life of the ages—not by those of the flesh.  We are to be feeding on eternal things, heavenly things—even Christ Himself—and not earthly sensual things.  We don’t underestimate the power of temptation.  But let us know that God has the grace we need to overcome it all.  “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” Jesus said.  “But be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”  He overcame the world so that by His Spirit we too could overcome the world.  And so when the pull of the world is strong and we are tempted to give ourselves to the pursuit of diverse lusts and pleasures and fill our lives with earthly things of one sort or another, let us earnestly seek to lift up our eyes to eternal realities, and to Him that dwelleth in the Heavens—and take up our cross!

Think of the beauty of the Life that the Son of God manifested when He walked right here on the ground in sandals—the Life of the ages, manifested in this present evil age.  He was a totally different kind of Man.  He was a spiritual, a heavenly Man.  He dwelt in a heavenly realm even while He was here on earth.  By His Spirit we can do the same.  The Son of God manifested in this age the Life of the ages.

He was crucified for it.

But if this was the lot of my Master, what shall my lot then be?  Let me weigh this soberly.  My beloved Master was crucified by a world absolutely at enmity against God.  Can I then live as its friend?

Two ages met in the Cross of Christ.  Two spirits—the spirit of this age, and the Spirit that is of God—met at the battle line, and the one destroyed the other.  Apparently it was the spirit of this age who triumphed.  But no.  In the Cross of Christ, two princes strove for control.  Two gods contended for worship.  And when the Son of God on the Cross with arms outstretched and head bowed worshipped His Father to the end, that other god was utterly vanquished.   That other prince was deposed.

“Now is the judgment of this world: now is the prince of this world cast out.”  Let us be assured that what God accomplished in the Cross of Christ we shall yet see completely fulfilled in this troubled little planet of ours—through you and me.  You and I have a part in that.  Jesus said that in His going away, He would send the Comforter to us. “And when He is come He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment. Concerning sin, because they believe not on Me, concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more, and concerning judgment, because the Prince of this world is (has been) judged” (Jn. 16. 8-11).  So, we have a part in this.  This is our calling in this present evil world.  Not to live here seeking to gain all it has to offer—whether in goods or in honours.  But rather to be those in whom the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, can make manifest that ancient conviction of the Cross, and cause that ancient judgment to be completely meted out.

Two spirits.  Two gods.  Two kingdoms.  Two ages.  We in this age are not to be conformed to this age, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  As we do this, and live now according to the age to come, it will certainly cost us our lives in this world.  But great shall be our reward in the age which is to come—a reward that is not just for our own benefit, if you understand what I am saying.

Oh that our eyes might be opened, then, to see that it is the age to come that is the important one!  How earthbound we are at times!  Our belly cleaveth to the dust, as the psalmist mourned.  Yet the writer of Hebrews tells us, “For not to angels did he subject the world to come, of which we speak” (Heb. 1.5).  Here, for world he uses yet another word, oikoumenen, meaning habitable world, the home of mankind.  And so we have a little glimpse here.  There is more before us, far more, than there is behind us.  There is much more to come in the purposes to God.  The age to come will involve a world inhabited by men.  And God is preparing some in this age to whom the world to come shall be subjected; and they shall rule over it in light as the powers of darkness have done in this present age of darkness.  It is a very great honour, this, a very high calling… though it means a very deep cross.  Let us take up that cross, beloved!  How long shall our fellow man be held in bondage of darkness? Do we love our Lord enough—and our fellow man—to take up our cross?  Oh, how blinded we are at times, and live on such a low plain, a merely temporal and earthly plain.  Eternal and heavenly verities are dim and distant things to us.  Instead we covet our neighbour’s beautiful property… or our brother’s blessing.

Beloved, these things ought not so to be.

Dear Lord, anoint our eyes with eyesalve that we might see!  You paid for us a debt we could not pay ourselves, and because of this, our salvation is not merely our own.  We are debtors to all men.  Keep us focused, then, on eternal realities, lest our lives, which are but a vapour, which are but for a moment, be lived in vain.  Keep us centred on your will… which we know will always result in footsteps on an eternal pathway, regardless what earthly circumstances we find ourselves in.  Keep us mindful of the coming age, dear Lord, and wary of this present one in which we live, as it is written, “Love not the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone should love the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 Jn. 2. 15-17).

And so help us nurture the faith, dear Lord Jesus Christ, that sees Him who is invisible, that looks not upon the things that are seen, the things that are temporal, but on the things that are unseen—eternal things.  Help us, Lord—we need your grace in this—to not be deceived by a world that is fleeting, transient, temporary.  Help us to take you seriously, and in this world take up our Cross, and follow you.  For we believe Your words, dear Lord, when you say, “He that loves his life shall lose it, but he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (Jn. 12.25).  Amen.



How Much is a Trinket Worth?

Carrying on with what we were talking about last time, we are so used to thinking that the way our world is… this is the way it will always be.  But that is not so.  Do we believe this?  This world as we know it is just an age… “this present evil age” (Gal. 1.4).  And it is an age that is drawing to a close.  Another age is coming.  Those with vision can already see its glow on the horizon.

And so we read of the children of this age” (which is darkness) and then of “the children of light” (Lk. 16.8).  These are the children of the age to come.  Paul called them “the children of the day.”  What a fascinating thought!  The children of the day!  The Day has not yet come, that age has not yet come… but its children are here already!  For God is impatient for the Day!  “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (1 Thes. 5.5).  In other words, right here in this age, right here in the darkness of this present age, God scatters like seed the children of Light, the children of the Day, like the stars strewn across the heavens.  “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the children of God, without blame, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2.15).  That is what we are supposed to be all about, fellow Christian—lights in the world!  Do you know, there is absolutely no light in this world, none at all, none whatever; this world is completely pitch black… apart from the Light of the world—Jesus Christ Himself—shining forth in you and me.

We know that the Day is at hand, inexorably the Sun of Righteousness shall arise; that Day is no more stoppable than the rising of the sun.  And so what do we do?  We just sleep through the night, we just sleep till morning?  No! says Paul.  For “we are not of the night, nor of the darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.”

We are not of the night.  We are children of Light, of the Day!  And so what do we do?  We put on the armour of light for a battle!  The outcome of the battle is certain, yes—as absolutely certain as the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.  But the battle must be engaged!  And it appears that the Prince of darkness and his hosts of darkness are not meeting with much resistance in this present hour.  Many of the soldiers of Light are fast asleep on their watch, their armour forgotten on the ground.  Let us awaken and take up our armour!  We who are children of the day—let us engage the battle!  The night is far spent, the Day is at hand! Let us put on the armour of Light and engage the battle!

Let us not be deceived!  Let us guard against the temptation to lay down the armour and live for this present evil age—its attractions, its pleasures, its comforts.  That is deception.  Or, on the other hand—and this too is deception—to end up choked by its cares.  Yes, the seed of the word is planted in our lives in this age.  But what about the weeds that are growing as well?  We are told of two kinds of weeds that choke out the word of truth so that these lives produce only sickly, spindly plants.  “And he who among the thorns was sown, this is he who hears the word, and the care of this age and the deceit of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mt. 13.22).  The care of this age—that’s how the original Greek reads, gathering together all the cares of this age into one beguiling care.

And so the two classes of weeds: care—the burden and care of life in this world, and then the deceitfulness of riches, both of which can prevent the fruitful harvest of the word God has planted in our lives.  We can be beguiled by both.

Paul warns those that are rich in this present age to be mindful not to be deceived by their riches.  “Charge them that are rich in this present age that they be not high minded, nor trust in the uncertainty of riches…” (1 Tim. 6.17).  This can be a great snare, so much so that Jesus warned that those who are rich enter the kingdom only with great difficulty.  They have it easy in this present age, and it becomes a snare to them.  It beguiles them. They’re inclined to sink their whole lives into what is but fleeting and transitory—as multitudes in our affluent western world are doing.  And so Paul goes on, warning them to put their trust not in the uncertainty of riches, but “in the living God, who gives us richly all things for enjoyment…” (so it’s not wrong to enjoy in moderation these things from the hand of God; only let them not be a snare to us, and our destruction) “…to do good, to be rich in good works, liberal in distributing, ready to communicate (to share) treasuring up for themselves a good foundation for the future, that they may lay hold of eternal life.”

Here again we see the contrast.  Rich in this world… or rich in good works, and in giving, in sharing, and in this way laying a foundation in this life that shall rise a beautiful edifice in the life to come.

And so that’s what this present life and age is for.  Let us not be deceived.  All that this present age has to offer is but temporal, transitory, and will one day be gone forever—and our lives with it… if that is all we have lived for.  “The world passeth away, and the lust (the desire) thereof…” says the apostle John, adding—and let it be this that we sink our whole lives into—“he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 Jn. 2.17).

Let us be wise, then.  Do we believe these things?  Only if we are acting on them.  If we believe these things, we are sowing the seeds of eternal life while we are in this present world, this present evil age.  We are laying the foundation of eternal life in this present life instead of building a magnificent edifice for ourselves in what is but, for us, a camping spot.  If we recognize that we are not at home here, we are not putting our roots down too deeply.  We live as strangers and sojourners here, pilgrims with no continuing city, who “seek one to come” (Heb. 13.14).

Beloved, let us lay this to heart.  “Only one life: ’twill soon be passed…”  It is heart rending that so many out there in the world spend their precious lives on the fleeting pleasures and interests of this present world.  But how much more tragic when you and I do the same.  For where, then, is the Light of the world?  How many of us Christians have been blinded by the trinkets of this present life—its pleasures and comforts, its honours and glory.  Paul mourned for Demas whom he said had forsaken him, “having loved this present age” (2 Tim. 4.10).  What a tragic, tragic loss—not only to himself but to others—when a Christian sells the eternal for the temporary.

I heard of a vision someone had of a vending machine—the kind you put a coin in and turn the handle… and out comes some little item—a trinket, or some peanuts.  In the vision, a man was putting his whole life into the slot in the vending machine.  And out came a little trinket.

Beloved, whatever this world has to offer—all that it has to offer—let us not be beguiled.  It is all but a trinket compared with the true, eternal riches.  Let us not pay with our lives for a trinket.

What Age Are You Living For?

I am still grieving the deaths of these young people the news has been telling us about.  I am mourning for them, hurting with their hurting families.  When this kind of thing happens you can hear very loudly the travail pains of a groaning creation.  And it causes a groaning in me as well.  How long, Lord?  I remember the dark ages of my own life, and now it grieves me deeply that so many spend their lives in such peril… and for such emptiness.  Yet where is the Light that would enable them to see this?  I remember when the Light rescued me… and now, in an hour when the darkness is far more intense, where is the Light of the world?  I feel like our churches are failing this present generation.  I feel like I am failing this generation.  Multitudes around us—like these young people who died so young and so tragically—they live their lives in this world as though this present world with all its pleasures and pastimes, with all its joys and toys, is all there is to live for.

And that is not so!  The Bible speaks much of two ages: this age—and the age to come.  The Greek word is aion, usually translated age, meaning, simply, an era or period of time.

Sometimes aion is used interchangeably with the word kosmos, the Greek for worldKosmos means order or arrangement.  We get our English words cosmos and cosmetics from it, both of which speak of an order, an adorning, an arrangement.

And so we read in Eph. 2.2 of “the age of this world,” where the two words are used together.  The aion of this kosmos.  “And you being dead in offences and sins, in which once ye walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of the disobedience…”

So we see that this present order—this arrangement of things in the world as we know it—is an age.  It is not going to be here forever, it is just an age: it’s called “this present evil age” (Gal. 1.4).  It is ruled over by a spirit, and its dominant feature is evil.  Or as we read in another place, darkness.  The primary characteristic of this age is darkness.  We read of “the world rulers (the cosmocrats) of the darkness of this age” (Eph. 6.12).

And we read of “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4.4).  And we read of “the wisdom of this age” which God hath made foolishness, and we read of “the princes of this age,” and of another Wisdom which if the princes of this age had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2.6).

And, intertwined through all this, we read of another age to come—with another world, another order.  In fact we read of ages to come (Eph. 2.7), but in the main we see these two ages — the present one, and the age to come.

And we see also—and this ought to encourage you and me, while at the same time challenging us—God is not just stoically waiting for this coming new order, the age to come.  He is not just passively waiting for things to run their natural course.  He is deeply pained with the evil of this present age beyond our ability to comprehend.  And so even now in this present age He plants the seeds of the coming one.  In this present age He births children who actually pertain to the age to come.  They are here now in this present age… but living for another age.  And it is actually through these children of light that the present age of evil and darkness will be completely shut down, the colossal defeat it suffered at the Cross of Christ being fully and finally executed.

When God brought His first begotten Son into the world the demons cried out in surprise, “Have you come to torment us before the time?”  They knew their time, their doom, would come some inevitable day away down the ages somewhere… or so they thought.  Here it was right in their face!  Here suddenly in a very early hour is this Man saying, “NOW is the judgment of this world (this kosmos); now is the prince of this world cast out” (Jn. 12.31).  Like the morning star before the dawning of the day, here is this Man who pertains to an entirely different age; here He is on the scene, revealing in this age the Life of that age, even eternal life.  And the demons cringed in fear.

A Man from Another Age entered this present evil age some two thousand years ago, inaugurating a new age—the age of the Kingdom of God.  By this Man falling into the ground and dying, God planted the Seed of that coming age in this age, and ever since it has been growing, growing, growing to fullness.  That kingdom will yet come to fruition, will come in fullness.  It has seen great resistance over the centuries, and at times great setbacks.  But the inevitable harvest will come.

The harvest,” we read, “is the end of the age” (Mt. 13.39).  I believe we are there now.  In the end of the age the reapers come forth, and there is a great separation of wheat from tares, and on the threshing floor of God, much wind, and fire, and sifting of the wheat.  Oh, how we need this just now!  I find great comfort in this, and, in a very dark hour, great hope.  “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”

Hasten this great work of Yours, dear Lord Jesus Christ, this separating, purifying work—that the Light might shine purely in the darkness again!

A Burden of Light

I have been feeling very heavy hearted and pained the last couple of days as a result of the multiple murder that took place over our way.  I’m sure many of you have heard about this—it’s been headline news all across Canada—the two young baseball players from Prince Edward Island playing for a team in Lethbridge, Alberta.  I don’t want to go into the details, but apparently they were celebrating a birthday out in a bar with their friends… having a wonderful time, enjoying life to the max the way young people just love to do.  A jealous ex-boyfriend of one of the girls comes along.  There is an ugly incident in the bar… and then later on the horror story on the highway at three in the morning as these young people leave their fun and rush to Calgary to catch a plane to Prince Edward Island for the Christmas break.  The ex-boyfriend has tailed them.  And he has a gun.

And now four young people are dead, this young man included.  He turned his gun on himself after he wreaked his vengeance.  The whole country is horrified.  How could this happen?

…Four young people in their early twenties, in the flower of life, and living life to the max.  Their whole lives were before them.  So much to live for.  Now they are dead.  Their friends are in tears:  they were such fun-loving people…  why could this happen to such wonderful people?

And so… my burden.  How long, Lord, how long?  How long till there shines a Light in the darkness that reveals to a whole generation of lost young people that this is not what life is for!  Sitting down to eat and to drink, and rising up to play… this is not what life is for!  This is not why God gave us a life—to consume upon ourselves!

The darkness “out there” is very thick in this hour.  The only reason people don’t flee from it as from atomic radiation is that… they don’t see how dark it is!  It’s only when you have a measure of light that you become aware of the darkness around you.

And so… the darkness that envelops this whole generation of young people like a burial shroud… who is responsible for that?

Fellow Christian, it is you and I who are to be the Light of the world.  And so, if the world is in darkness, where is the Light?

At times I feel a resentment toward the churches of our day.  I wonder if it isn’t a divine resentment.  For, in spite of the fact that there is so very little light in the churches of our day, we carry on, carry on, carry on… with our many programs and our nice activities… when, out of love for a lost generation we should be calling a halt to it all and crying out to God for mercy!

…But, never mind the churches.  What about me, Lord?  One of the things being carried by the priests through the wilderness was the lampstand.  It was veiled in blue with a covering of badger skins over top.  Lord, I cannot rest till you bring me to the place where this lampstand under the badger skin is set up in Your Tabernacle, and the Light shines in the darkness again… the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ!

Christian, is Jesus the light of your life, and mine?  Is Jesus the light we have in our heart?  Is Jesus Christ our righteousness in our hearts, and our salvation?  Then let this be our cry:

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the Righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the Salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth” (Isaiah 62.1).

Come And See

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?” John’s two disciples had asked.

Jesus did not respond by giving them His house address and directions on how to get there.

His invitation was, “Come and see” (John 1.39).

We are living in days when the amount of Christian knowledge available to us—very good Christian knowledge—is absolutely immense.  The Internet has Bible study resources like nothing the world has ever seen before.  There are also countless messages by a host of good ministries, and books and audios and videos without number.  Most of this is in the English language, I know, but I think there are translation tools available for a lot of it.

Add to that the multitude of messages over our pulpits on any given Sunday, and the weekly home Bible studies…

This is all very wonderful, is it not?  Yes… but at the same time it is, to me, somewhat frightening that we have all this available to us.

For, I remind you that alongside all this Bible knowledge, the darkness of our world has also grown to immense proportion.

How can this be?  So much light, but so much darkness, also?  Why, with all our Internet resources and Sunday sermons and Bible studies are we not making the impact on this world that we need to be making—and which the beloved Bible we are studying so much says we should be making?

Could it be possible that we are being led astray by the very abundance of the knowledge we have at our fingertips?  Is it possible that the light we have is actually blinding us?  I think that it might be.  At least the potential for that is there.  I think it is, at least, a very great test we are being subjected to.

If the abundance of the Bible knowledge available to us in this day is not creating in us a cry… “Lord Jesus Christ… it is YOU YOURSELF we want… and need; we want YOU in our midst, we want to see and need to see YOU…”  then we have miserably failed a very important test… with dangerous implications.

We have all this available to us… the sermons, the Bible studies, the Internet resources… yet our need in this hour for the Presence of the Lord Himself in our midst is beyond words to describe.

This is what I meant when I said last time that John the Baptist gave his disciples a very good spiritual education—something beyond the things I’ve mentioned.  The diploma these disciples had received in the School of John the Baptist certified—and their own hearts bore witness to it—that it was Something more than knowledge their eye was searching for.

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

Is that the cry on our hearts as well?

And if not…  why not?  In spite of all we are learning, are we in the right school?

That is the question we need to face up to.  Where is our hunger for God—for God Himself?  I wonder if hunger for God Himself is not the greatest spiritual blessing a person can have.

Notice.  John’s two disciples address Jesus as Rabbi—Master, Teacher… Rabbi—the very title by which they had previously addressed John.

“Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?”

In other words, they were expectantly looking to Jesus now to be their new teacher.

Their new Rabbi inducted them into the School of Christ immediately.

Come and see.”

Lesson Number One in the School of Jesus Christ:  It was not information He gave them, but an invitation to participate in a walk with Him.

It is only by walking with this Teacher and dwelling with Him, and taking His yoke upon us, and in this way learning of Him, that we become true disciples in the school of Christ.

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The Ever Increasing Kingdom

There is a feast that “mends in length” — that grows greater, better, richer, fuller, deeper, the longer it continues.  This feast is, really, the table of the Kingdom of God, where we are sitting down with our King at His table, and in His kingdom.

It is a kingdom the increase of which shall know no end.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice from henceforth forever” (Isaiah 9.6,7).

There shall be no end to the increase of this kingdom—its government, its peace.  This kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that cannot be destroyed.  In fact, as many as have sought to come against and destroy this kingdom have only caused it to increase.

Daniel saw “a Stone cut out without hands” (there’s your Rock that came down from Heaven, Cole) that smote a great image of gold and silver and bronze and iron and clay—smote it upon its feet.  And the whole thing came crashing down, “and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.  And the Stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2.35).

This is what happened at Calvary.  The Son of God at Calvary, as they drove in the nails— it was God who was doing the smiting.

Jesus the Son of God had come on the scene pronouncing that the kingdom of the heavens was at hand.  He went about ministering this wonderful kingdom—preaching to the poor the Glad Tidings of this kingdom, healing the sick, casting out demons…  The kingdom of God was not something to come some distant day down the ages.  The king of the kingdom was present!  The kingdom of God had come nigh!

“But if I by the finger of God cast out demons, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (Luke 11.20).

Satan was not happy with all this.  If this One were allowed to continue on, it would be the utter demise of his own kingdom.  He had to do something about it.  And so he conspired to have the King of this kingdom crucified.

People get fascinated by conspiracy theories.  God had His own conspiracy par excellence in the works.  What happened at Calvary was a sting operation like none other.  For, when Satan sought to put a halt to this kingdom by conspiring to have the king of this kingdom crucified—and he succeeded in his evil design—much to his everlasting dismay, all he succeeded in doing was causing this kingdom to increase!

For, when the risen and ascended King sat down on the Throne of the Kingdom at the right hand of the Father and sent forth His Holy Spirit upon the waiting disciples, this was the increase of His kingdom!  And now they went forth in multiplied numbers proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Acts 8.12, 14.22, 19.8, 28.23,31) .

Oh, what a wonder.  Oh, the wisdom of God—“the wisdom of God in a mystery… which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory” (1 Corinthians 2.8).

In spite of all his knowledge—and he prides himself on his knowledge, we are told: Ezekiel 28.3,17—Satan (I say this respectfully) seems to be a slow learner.  He just never seems able to comprehend the wisdom of the Cross.  For he continues to assault this everlasting kingdom to this day.  What shall the end be of all his malice, I wonder?  For he is working overtime these days, intent on obliterating this kingdom from the earth.  At times it seems he has almost succeeded… as he did that day at Calvary.  (We are smiling at this now, aren’t we?)

…Beloved saints of the Most High—the ones Daniel in another of his visions saw taking the kingdom, Dan. 7,18—let us not be slow learners ourselves.  Let us walk in the wisdom of God.  Let us take up our own cross, and follow Jesus.  I confess… I myself have been such a slow learner in this area.  Even so, I continue to take my place as a disciple at the feet of Jesus.  For, wherever the saints of the Most High are taking up their cross and following Jesus, are standing true in their troubles, are fighting the good fight of faith, are fighting the Lamb’s war, are seeking to overcome evil with good, are walking in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit… this is the fellowship of the “kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ”—and the increase of His everlasting kingdom is inevitable.

And God has a surprise in store.  The hour is at hand when this kingdom shall “come”—shall be openly manifested in great fullness.  When, and where, shall it stop?  Never, apparently.

Daniel saw this mountain filling the whole earth.  Isaiah saw a day when its increase would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11.9).

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