Monday, May 25, 2009

Sharing Our Burdens With Jesus

Prayer. Is the scope of it limited to ‘presenting our petitions’ before the Lord? Some people have the idea that God is at their beckoning call. Just who is Lord and who is servant? And what does Christ have in mind for those that are His? “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” Eph. 5: 26-27. So - are we walking, talking, sharing with Him? Is He the love of our lives? He should be. . .

Sharing our burdens with Jesus.

Are you weary, are you heavy hearted? Are you grieving over joys departed? Do the tears flow down your cheeks unbidden? Have you sins that to men’s eyes are hidden? Do you fear the gathering clouds of sorrow? Are you anxious what shall be tomorrow? Are you troubled at the thought of dying? For Christ’s coming kingdom are you sighing?

One who is heavy hearted will be weary, both mentally and physically. A lack of true joy is apt to bring forth an abundance of tears. The causes given: sin, fear, anxiety, trouble, longing. . .

Tell it to Jesus.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. . .Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Heb. 4:15a,16.

Who has not gone into any fast food restaurant to order and not heard the order taker say, Is this eat in - or take out? Do we dare approach the Throne of Grace and ask for a take out? “My God shall supply all your need? O.K. Lord: but “I want this to go.” God forbid! Our God is not a short order cook, geared to give fast service.

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there?

Another song writer addresses the economy, poor health, pain, enemies, old age. He advises: ‘Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.’ I would venture to say that one who will “leave it there” and return from the presence of the Lord will find the burden still upon his shoulders. The remedy for the burden is found at the Throne of Grace. It is to be found in the Presence of a Person.

“What a fellowship, what a joy divine; What a blessedness, what a peace is mine; O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way; O how bright the path grows from day to day; What have I to dread, what have I to fear; I have blessed peace, with my Lord so near; Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.’

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I AM meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls” Matt. 11:28,29. Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there? The scriptures seem to indicate that the burden be taken to the Lord - yes! But that His yoke be taken on in its place. His ‘burden’ is light - so light that we will be resting as we bare it! And ‘learn of Me?’ How shall I learn of Christ by leaving His Presence?

Are you weary? Are you heavy hearted? “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!” Matt. 11:28.

Are you grieving over joys departed? “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” John 15:11.

Have you sins that to men’s eyes are hidden?” “Every branch in Me. . .he purgeth it. . .ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” John 15:1a,2b,3.

What of the ’burden?’ How did we come by it? Is it defective? Is it broken? Are we bringing it back to the place from which it originated? Do we want it replaced with a similar burden? Are we to pick it up later, after it has been repaired? Or do we just want to be shed of it; let it be recycled, trashed?

Burden? or Blessing?

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” Rom. 8:28. Of course this precludes, disqualifies any burden! Right? And God could not possibly allow a burden to beset us that would be in His will and according to His purpose!

“But my God [is He your God, too?] shall supply all your need [He shall supply all You need!] according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Phil.4:19.

On their wilderness journey, Israel cried out against God and against Moses: “no bread, no water - and our soul loatheth this light [insubstantial] bread.” Num. 21;5. The manna that was given from above was rendered a burden rather than a blessing.

My God shall supply all your need that He might supply all your need!

“according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Then - had it been the eternal will and purpose of God - He might have anticipated, seen to it, that we never ever had a need!

And can it be? That my Sovereign has designed, crafted, tailored, orchestrated, personalized a need - just for me? Thank You, O Lord, for this burden; for this need that You have provided (supplied); that I may bring it to the Throne of Grace, acknowledge that You were the Giver, I the receiver. Lord, I perceive that such a valued gift should be shared with the Giver; that I might entrust back into Your hands; that we might share it, together; that I might have reason to give praise; to glorify the Lord of Glory! And was the gift, the need, not delivered along with Goodness and Mercy; with Trust and Faith? The gift of burden is exceedingly precious, for it came from hands that bled for me!

But why? Why would God allow needs, burdens, troubles, into my life? I believe Paul had as good of an answer as can be found in all the Bible: “ I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. . .And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering. . .I follow after. . .reaching forth. . .I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” Phil. 3.

Sharing our burdens with Jesus.

All, I suppose, are familiar with ‘blind Bartmaeus’: “And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me” Mark 10:47. It was not until Jesus said, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? that he said, Lord, that I might receive my sight! Do we dare conclude that being in the Presence of the Lord superceded his ‘need?’

And of Mary and Martha who sent word unto Jesus concerning their brother, Lazarus. “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick” John 11:3. This can scarcely be called a ‘prayer,’ but two hearts reaching out; not petitioning Jesus to intercede in their behalf; but a communication, communion; knowing the Lord would be ‘touched with the feeling of their infirmities, and that of Lazarus, whom He loved. . .Understand, we are not to place the circumstances between ourselves and God; but Christ is to be between us and the circumstances. Our focus, not on the burden, but on Christ, the object of our faith. To do otherwise is sadly to trust the arm of the flesh. It is faith - or it is unbelief.

In Matthew 15 we are told of a woman of Canaan: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil” Matt. 15:22. “Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me” vs.25. She did not cry for the unsearchable riches from the Lord’s table but of the crumbs which should fall thereby. “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith. . .” Great faith may be great in that it is sorely tested, tried, proved.

One other: the woman with the issue of blood: “When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole” Mark 5: 27-28. And Jesus was “touched with the feeling of her infirmities!”

All of these accounts well qualify for that which is found in John 11:4: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”

Have you a need? Understand that it came from your God; that you are to acknowledge it to be according to the wisdom and purpose of His Divine will. Realize that if you did not need this need, that He would not have supplied it. Confess the presence of the need; that you can not, must not, attempt to handle it by yourself. Approach the Throne of Grace, the Mercy Seat: approach it (the Presence of God) with thanksgiving and praise and worship, followed by “Thy Will Be Done.” and “Thine be the Glory, forever and ever.” Meet with our Lord: fellowship, commune with Him. His Presence is more than life itself. Let this need help you (help me) to learn to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” Deut. 6:5.

All this being said, our need above all needs is for a Saviour. Being sinners and alienated from our Creator, we were helpless - yet willingly so. If we might have repented and come to God strictly on our own - but we could not, would not, so great our depravity. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sin, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;). . . That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” Eph. 2:5,6,7. That is, My God shall supply all your need [we have need of His atonement for sin; we have need of His forgiveness; we have need of His reconciliation; we have need of His imputed righteousness; we have need of His Presence!] according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Those well known words spoken by Abraham on the mount: “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” Gen 22:7. Yes. God would provide for Himself a Lamb; He would provide Himself as that Lamb; He would present to Himself that Lamb. He would present us to the Lamb; He would present the Lamb to us! Selah!

A Personal Prayer List.

What do I have need of? My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus - which includes ( though not inclusive): His life, His Light, His Word, His Spirit, His faithfulness, His favor, His Intercession, His quickening, His abiding presence, His enabling power, His sufficiency, His mercy, His grace, His guidance, His indwelling righteousness, His holiness, His strength, His comfort; knowledge, wisdom, understanding, discernment, compassion, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, patience, diligence, virtue, humility.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Facing the Lions

Just Who Are They?

“Then the king commanded, and they [just who are they?] brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions” Dan. 6:16a.

The lions were the executioners; it was they who were to carry out the sentence; to swiftly bring the demise, a final end, to Daniel. But the real threat was another ‘den of lions’, those who stalked, those who lay in wait, those who schemed, who watched the feeding habits of their prey, that they might take him, rip him asunder, tear him to shreds. “My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue is a sharp sword” Psalm 57:4.

“Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom. . .Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it concerning the law of his God” Dan. 6:4a,5. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” I Peter 4:14. “he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him” vs. 4b. Who among us can qualify for such a testimony afforded Daniel?

Think you that history is not yet going to repeat itself; that it is happening even now, in our generation? Can it be that presidents and princes, dens of lions, are seeking to find occasion against the Daniels of our day?

Men think to set aside, to ignore the laws of God; to impose their own laws of unrighteousness upon those who would hold to and embrace God’s Divine Precepts.

If you’re going to face lions - first face Jerusalem!

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” Dan. 6:10.

And we know what has just happened, don‘t we? “All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains [the Babylonian Supreme Court, the Congress, the Senate, (the Pharisees, the priests) and all in lesser authority] have consulted together to establish a royal statute. . .a firm decree, that whosoever [Daniel] shall ask a petition [prayer] of any God [no, not just any god, but God] for thirty days [Oh, well and good! Daniel need only wait for thirty days to pray unto his God, and everything will be all right, Right?!] he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing. . .” Dan. 6:6-8.

The day will come when the true follower of Christ will find himself in defiance of the law of the land as he possesses a Bible, reads and follows its precepts, when he prays to the God of heaven, when he dares speak the name of Jehovah God both within and without his house.

Now when Daniel knew the decree was signed, he fled into his house, locked and secured the shutters, double bolted every door, hid himself is a corner, and mourned woefully unto his God: Lord, why hast thou forsaken me? Why has this evil persecution come upon me that these would conspire to take my life?” NO! When he knew the writing was signed, he prayed [ asked petition] and gave thanks before his God! Are there any Daniels in the room? Lift your hand! Daniel, who shall be able to separate you from the love of Christ? “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. . .shall be able to separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Rom. 8.

“and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem. . .” May we not understand that the windows of Daniel’s heart were continually opened unto Jesusalem: (no, it’s not an error in spelling; I meant to write Jesus Salem, who was Himself the God of Peace to the heart of Daniel as he faced the lions who hated him; who would not rest, who would never know “peace” until he was dead.)

When the shutters over the windows of our heart are opened, the Sonlight may shine, enter in, flooding our chamber. Therefore, when we step out into the darkness of this world, let us open the shutters of our hearts that the Sonlight which aforetime entered in, may from within, shine forth unto the darkened hearts of men.

What’s on your menu?

“and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God. . .” vs. 10. At the onset of the Jewish captivity in Babylon, there were four Hebrew children of which Daniel became the spokesman: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” Dan. 1:8.

The prince of the eunuchs feared for his life in that his king would see saddened faces (a fallen countenance) of these men upon partaking only of pulse and water. Daniel’s reply: Put us to the test; after ten days compare our countenance with those who ate the king’s meat and drank his wine. Apparently God was pleased; His face shown upon them; their hearts were filled with the Joy of the Lord - and it radiated on their faces! (The countenance of Cain was fallen. But did not the face of Abel glow as he obeyed the Lord and received His blessing?) Consider the reward of God upon these four Hebrew believers: “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom. . .the king found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm” vs. 17,20. (Do you ever wonder why students who are home schooled or attend Christians schools seem to excel beyond those who attend other schools of learning?) Daniel was now as he was then: the Lord was his portion: he would continue to eat of the Bread of Life; to drink of Living Water. Three meals a day, if you please! He would receive nourishment from the King’s Table!

“Then these men assembled [the Babylonian House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court] and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God” vs.11. The assembly was called into session before the king - That Daniel which is of the children of the captivity of Judah regardeth thee not nor the decree which thou hast signed” vs.13.

But in the eyes of the king, “Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit [Spirit?] was in him” vs.3. The Lie: he regardeth thee not, nor your decree. NO! The king knew in his heart that Daniel ‘regarded him’, but he must have known also, that Daniel regarded his God - and His decrees, far above that of the king. . .

Shutting the mouths of the lions.

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” Rom. 3:19.

The mouths of the lions in the lion’s den were stopped: “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lion’s mouths, that they have not hurt me. . .” Dan. 6:22. The mouths of the lions were stopped: “And the king commanded, and they brought those men [as raging lions they were] which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions. . .the lions had mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den” Dan. 6:24. “they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah” Psalm 57:6. The law of God prevailed over men’s wicked laws of unrighteousness; their mouths were stopped. . .The mouth of Satan, that roaring lion, shall be stopped! “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. . .and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” Rev. 20:10. What a “lion’s den” that will be!

Devoured? or Delivered?

“your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” I Peter 5:8. “so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them. . “ Ezek. 34:12.

Satan walks about, seeking whom he may devour. . .Jesus, both Shepherd and the Lion of the tribe of Judah, goeth about seeking whom He may deliver.

We must not close without a hint of “Another” like Daniel: Daniel was preferred over all. . .the king thought to set him over the whole realm of the kingdom. Those who sought to find fault could not; he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. He prayed and made supplication before his God. He was falsely accused; he was made out to be an insurrectionist against the king and his kingdom. He was cast into the den of lions, a stone was brought and laid upon the mouth of the den. The king set a seal with his own signet. In another place the den of lions or sepulchre was ‘made sure’; the stone was sealed. The king arose very early in the morning and went in haste unto the den of lions (or which should have been by now Daniel’s sepulchure.) Innocency was found in him; the mouths of the lions [ Death and the Grave?] were shut. The king commanded and Daniel was taken up out of the den. No manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. The king made another decree: that in every dominion of MY kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: For HE is the living God, and stedfast for ever and HIS kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and HIS dominion shall be even unto the end” Dan. 6:26.