Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Let us Meet the Jesus of Glory

Rev.1:13-17 - 13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.

he Book of the Revelation contains many prophetic glimpses. But the book itself is actually a revelation of the Risen Christ, Jesus. And here John recounts an encounter with that same Risen Christ, and it is startling. The description of Jesus is overwhelming in its majesty and glory. It is very difficult, and probably impossible, for the Spirit to communicate through human words the colossal resplendence of our Lord and Savior, but even those words are enough to shake our beings.
It has become customary in today’s evangelical circles to treat Jesus as merely a divine friend, and someone who desires to help you be a success in this western culture. That is not to say that Jesus is not our friend, He is, but we must not reduce Him to that alone and strip Him of the majesty He so richly deserves and wears. Look at verse 17. This is the Apostle John who loved Jesus and so often laid his head upon the chest of the Messiah. John walked with Jesus for several years and knew Him most intimately, and I am certain they had many conversations that could very well be described as friend to friend.
But now, in the presence of the Risen and Glorified Christ, John falls at His feet as if he were dead. Imagine that! Now if John was reduced to trembling worship when in His presence, how can we believers claim we have been in the presence of Jesus and yet be unchanged and even distracted? I am one who fully embraces intimacy and friendship with the Lord Jesus, but I also believe much of the church has robbed Him of His breathtaking glory. Where is the refiner’s fire that accompanies His presence? Where are the tears of brokenness that authenticate that we have met the August Lamb? How often have our knees buckled under the weight of our own sin and the weight of His eternal forgiveness?
Our Christology may be Biblical and orthodox, but our prayer closets and worship times seem so shallow and perfunctory and diminish the Lord we have so neatly carved out in doctrine. Even non-liturgical church meetings have become so predictable and ritualistic in their own right regardless of their volume and demonstrative freedom. And do not believe that you can just conjure up Jesus at any convenient time and by the sheer force of your own will and imagination have an “in and out“ encounter with Christ. Jesus is everywhere, but experiencing His presence is more than just believing God is omnipresent. Entering into the presence of Christ requires a thirst and a seeking that is Jacob-esque in its relentlessness. If you can be satisfied without being in the tangible atmosphere of God’s presence, then you will be. I do not speak of emotionalism or displays of self serving melodrama that can be seen in some churches, but I do speak of a much deeper level of spiritual encounter in our devotional lives. And with all of this world, and our own flesh as well, weighing us down, we cannot just microwave our prayer and worship times and expect to please God or be changed from glory to glory.
And that is the challenge laid before us. And this is a ministry to which all believers are called; it is ministering to Christ, worshiping at His feet and allowing the Spirit to filet our hearts wide open and cleanse us from all unrighteousness as well as continuing the process of Christ being formed within us. Let us not deceive ourselves and let us be painfully honest; this western culture of entertainment, success, television, debt, and idolatry has taken a savage toll on our devotional lives. We have at our disposal a plethora of Christian books and Cds and aids that are designed to communicate information to us. But we have allowed those things to replace elongated times of seeking God in the secret places.
I believe most believers walk through the church doors on Sunday morning without ever having spent any serious or meaningful time with the Lord Jesus that week. And yet many of those same people can manifest all the outward demonstrations of worship on demand. And when the “service” is over the congregation exits to enjoy an afternoon feast, perhaps some football, and some well deserved rest. Viola! The redundant Sunday morning religious festivities have once again been accomplished until next week.
If that is what you want then you can continue on that assembly line. But if there is something inside you that is stirring and creating a holy discomfort, and if you are willing to alter some things in your life, then Jesus awaits. But it will take more than turning over a new leaf; more than just reading one more chapter a day; and more than buying some new worship music. This is a labor of love that finds its joy in the labor and not some accomplishment. This is a thirst that when quenched breeds more thirst. I have in my lifetime lived in seasons with such a spiritual thirst for Jesus that I could not wait until the earthly work was done and I could surrender to the shadow of His wings. I long for a return to that sacred sukkah.
Two sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, were both over 80 years old. Peggy was blind and Christine was bent over with arthritis. They lived off the coast of Scotland in what is called the Hebrides islands. Although they were not physically able to make the church services, they felt strongly that God was calling them to a ministry of prayer and intercession, especially praying for revival. The Christian community in the Hebrides had grown cold by 1949 and the Spirit was knocking on the door of these two precious women.
Both women felt impressed of the Spirit that revival was coming if believers would pray. They conveyed this to the local pastor, and they told him that he should organize prayer meetings. The pastor did so and many began to pray in earnest. After many weeks, a young deacon rose up in one of the prayer meetings and openly expressed his frustration with the group as a whole, including himself. He was convinced that their lives were not coming into compliance with what they were praying for and that they all needed to repent.
The young man looked up into heaven and asked God if his own hands were clean before God. In a moment, that young man fell to the ground and was in a trance-like spiritual state. From there the revival gained momentum. A young preacher named Duncan Campbell was called to the islands, and on the very first day he arrived there were mighty manifestations of the Spirit. For months sinners were saved from all over the islands, and dance halls and bars were closed as people were inexplicably drawn to the church and convicted of their lost condition. Some further descriptions can be found here.
I long to return to those days again…for His glory alone. In the midst of the candlesticks He stands, glorious and with indescribable power. The Lord of all Lords awaits with undeserved patience, for when that patience evaporates and the Lamb readies Himself for battle, the entire world will feel the horror of His wrath. Do not succumb to the noxious sirens of today’s evangelical counterfeits. They would strip the Lord Jesus of His magnificence and reduce Him to earth’s servant. He has played the servant once for us all, but that servant is now the Crowned Prince of Heaven.

Lord revive your stricken church. We have drifted so far and so wide, and we have become faithful Babylonians rather than faithful servants of the Most High God. You have suffered for us, but we have dined at the table of ease. We are blind and deaf, and our worship has become music and sound systems that elicit emotion and an appreciation for human talent, but our hearts remain unbroken and beating to our own fleshly wills.

Give us an unquenchable desire to pray, fervently and with passion and faith, and empower us with a relentless journey to seek you with our whole hearts. We have become satisfied with our own caricatures of Jesus. We stumble from week to week, and with each week replicating the former and foreshadowing the next, and still we are content. Believers have been burned at the stake in your name with a song on their lips, but our complaints blanket the smallest inconvenience. We have massaged our consciences by throwing stones at lost sinners, but we close our eyes to the mirror of Your Word that screams our spiritual indictment.

Lord, begin a fire within us that cannot be denied. Burn the dross of this world from the dwelling place it has found in our wayward hearts. We are in a desperate situation. Like Samson of old we pray, show Your power and Your glory once more. If we will not surrender then capture us with your love and grace and power. We are Your unprofitable servants; if You still can, ignite Your glory within us and by consuming all that is of us, may Jesus be high and lifted up.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Rick. Your article was very timely and inspiring!

Holy God, we praise You for continually cleansing those people who love You, so that they do not rob Jesus unduly of His breathtaking majestical glory.

Treasured readers of this blog, may you continually be grateful to the risen Jesus and praise Him for the refiner’s fire that accompanies His presence.

O yes, may you worship Him always with a heart that leaps with gratitude for His gift of forgiveness.

Almighty God, we bless You for blessing the precious readers of this wonderful blog as they hunger and thirst to enter into the presence of Christ with a similar relentlessness determination to be blessed that You blessed Jacob with.

Our gratitude, great King of glory, as believers, for the thrilling presence of the Holy Spirit is unbounded and we can only marvel as You continually cleanse our hearts, so that we can be miraculously changed from glory to glory.

Precious readers, if some of you have been less serious than you should be in your Bible studies up until now then now is time to show yourselves willing, eager and expectant to learn from God Triune.

Truly He longs to abundantly bless those students who really want to learn from Him! Be especially encouraged, for Jesus is awaiting your decision.

Yes, you can say yes to God this time with a totally grateful heart and experience life-changing success!

May Our most wonderful gracious loving God continue to bless your lives, and in so doing teach you that saying yes to Him will involve you making a personal commitment to Him to turn away and flee from all speech and deeds that God says are evil.

To God Triune be the glory!

Anonymous said...

Amen to the above and thank you for saying such a wonderful prayer on behalf of us all...

Radiance said...

I continue to be blessed by your writings. I praise God for using them to point me to my First Love.