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No One But Jesus

February 27th, 2015

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

Matthew 17:6-8

Have you come to an experience where all that was left for you to see was Jesus? Every other person and sensation was removed - the company of faithful, the sense of glory, even the fearful display of the greatness of God - and you are left alone with Christ?

It is the great need of our hearts to be alone with Christ, to hear His voice calm our hearts and remove our fears. The heart of Christ could not keep Him away from these three disciples who were awestruck by the greatness of God, whose reaction in their flesh left them terrified. He came and touched them, returning their minds to the physical world, assuring them, comforting them.

The disciples on this occasion reveal to us how far from God our race has fallen, that His expression of love for the Son should leave us in such disarray. The journey we have toward personal holiness is still a long one. The full knowledge of the holiness of God is still a long way off for our race, even for those who have followed Christ for many years. How can we hope to traverse this distance? How dare we aspire toward spiritual maturity?

But then Christ comes to us, in His Word, by His Spirit, and touches us in our hearts. He tells us to rise, to put aside fear. The holiness and overwhelming greatness of God that seems so far off, it is our destiny in Him. We would do better to look into the sun with our naked eyes than to see the unfiltered glory of God in our flesh. But that will change one day, our flesh and our hearts shall be renewed. As Christ said, “Where I am there you may be also” (John 14:3).

Christ is given to us to lead us to God. His holiness is full, but His glory is muted somewhat so that He might come near to us, and teach us, that we might approach Him without fear. But by drawing close to Him, we are drawn into eternity. Here we doubt, we worry, we are fearful, we tremble even at the things that should inspire us. But the day will come when we will be brought into the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of God (Rom 8:21).

John, who was one of the disciples on that holy mountain, wrote these words as the Spirit inspired him to:

1 John 3:2-3: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

The great need of our hearts today is to listen to the voice of Christ speaking to us by His Spirit, to let Him reveal Himself to us, His love, His heart, His compassion, His fullness. And to know that the highest and greatest spiritual experiences we have in this life are at the best only a brief taste of the glory that we shall enter into with Him.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

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The Potential of Faith

February 26th, 2015

I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:20

There are, perhaps, no words from the mouth of Jesus that challenge us like these do.

We misunderstand them if we imagine He meant we can perform magic tricks at will, for nothing in the Bible suggests this. We cannot put the Lord to the test, to make Him jump through hoops for us like a trick dog. All of faith bows before Him who has all power in utter humility of heart and surrender of will.

Furthermore, faith is involved in doing things for others - through faith, of course, but still we serve others. I once preached a sermon entitled, “How to Move Mountains without Getting Your Hands Dirty,” based on this text and James 2:17, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Our works are not a substitute for faith but the outworking of our faith. My conclusion in the sermon was that we cannot move mountains through faith without our hands getting involved somewhere with service - without the “dirt” from some mountain being on them. An uninvolved faith is a weak faith.

Remember the disciples, at the miraculous feedings, found what food they could - as inadequate as it was to feed the masses - and they were not rebuked for this. It revealed that their hearts were in the right place, even if their best effort was next to nothing compared to what Christ would do. And it is noteworthy to realize that He used their effort and multiplied it - thousands of time over. Believing people serve God. They do not sit around lazily calling on God to perform miracles.

Yet there is a unique challenge in these words of Christ that call us to believe in His supernatural power that is far beyond our own. If all we dream of or plan for is explainable merely by human terms, then we are not operating at the divine level. Our faith must be invested in the will and revelation of God, not in our own ambitions or whims, yet too often we think only in terms of what we can do without God.

The spiritual person lives daily with an awareness of the divine power of God. In their day to day life, spiritual people appear as mere pragmatists, who go about their business no different from any one else, not “putting the Lord to the test,” not insisting on miracles for their daily routine. But their minds must be committed over to the power and potential of God. They look for His hand at work.They dream God-sized dreams and hope in God-sized dimensions.

If we walk daily in awareness of the divine power of God, if we live each minute in the surrender of our heart to His will, if our passions are for Him and for His desires to be done above all other desires, if we will think in terms of what God can do, and not what we cannot do, then we will find our lives with an unleashed potential. Prayer becomes an adventure. Life becomes about the power of God being revealed and demonstrated in our world. That is no mere platitude. It is the meaning of the words of Christ. Simple faith in God opens up the potential for life.

Joel prophesied that in these days of the Spirit unleashed upon the church, “Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). Youth are apt to be caught up in their own ambitions and hopes, “visions of self grandeur,” and old men are apt to have more regrets than dreams, to be so beat down by the world that they are hardened realists. But the Spirit, as He moves across our hearts, renews the sense within of the divine power of God in both. For the young, their visions in the Spirit become God-based, and for the old their dreams become Spirit-led.

The spiritual person with eyes of faith sees the potential and power of God in daily life.

Prayer:

God, I believe You are able to do all things, that You have all power and all wisdom. Let us today bow before You in humility, surrender to Your purpose and put our lives in Your hands. Show us Your divine power. Teach us to pray and to trust, to see through the eyes of faith what You can do. Teach us to dream aright. Give us the visions You desire us to have. Renew our hearts to hope again. Let there be about us some “divine impractical-ness” that believes You can move mountains. Give us also the peace of faith, that worries and fears nothing, that lives and rests confidently in the reality of Your greatness.

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