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“Are We There Yet?”

February 28th, 2011 No comments

And Jesus said unto him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mar 12:34)

are we there yetStanding at the west end of Monumental Park with a group of happy pilgrims taking in the sights and sounds of God’s amazing Grace, we heard a fellow in our group call out and ask, “Are we there yet?” His voice was a bit strained, and betrayed a measure of mild exasperation.

“What do you mean?” a fellow traveler asked.

“The Place called Grace – are we there yet?”

Everybody was stunned. I must admit that I myself was a bit perplexed at this fellow’s disconnection to the moment. How could he not know where we were?

“Dude, we’ve been here for quite awhile!” somebody else in the group replied.

Realizing this guy needed help, I then said, “At the start of our Journey I told you all that we would be traveling far to a place that is nearby; and once we are there, you will realize that we’ve actually been here all along. Remember me saying that to you?”

“So, are you saying we have arrived?” the fellow then asked.

“You’re the only one who can answer that,” I replied. “Grace is a place where you experience a power because you have met a Person.”

That Person is the Lord Jesus, the King of Grace and Glory. The power is the incomprehensible influence of His redeeming presence in all things, at all times. And the Place of Grace is everywhere humble men and women live freely to do God’s will fully.

“So, let me ask the question a different way,” I  then said. “Have you arrived?”

The perplexed brother stared at me in silence.

Perhaps a short story will serve to illustrate my meaning.

Years ago at a youth camp the guest speaker presented a compelling message for surrendering our all to Jesus Christ. What made his talk so compelling was the glow upon his face. This was real to him; and we could tell. He was “standing in a place called Grace.”

At one point in his message he told us about an experience he himself had at this very camp years earlier when he was a student. He had taken a walk into the woods after an evening meeting and found a spot where he fell on his knees and cried out to God, “Oh, God! Do in me anything You need to do, so You can do through me everything You want to do!”

The power of the Holy Spirit fell upon him as he prayed, and he rose to “walk in newness of life; empowered to love and serve the Lord.”

We were riveted by his story. One student approached him after our evening meeting and asked, “Preacher, can you take me to that spot?”

“Certainly,” the camp preacher said, “Follow me.” And they headed off into the woods. After they had walked for several minutes, the student asked, “Are we there, yet?”

“We’re getting close,” the preacher said. And they walked on further. And again, after some distance was covered, the student asked, “Are we almost there?”

“It won’t be much longer,” the preacher said. “It should be just a little bit further.”

They walked on deeper into the woods, getting farther and farther from camp. The young man grew increasingly restless, and asked once more – “Are we close to that spot?”

bowing“It shouldn’t be too much further,” the preacher said.

After several minutes of more hiking, the student fell to his knees and cried out in desperation, “Oh, God! I can’t wait any longer! Do in me what you did in this preacher!”

God’s presence suddenly flooded the young man’s heart, as he wept for joy. And the preacher smiled and said, “There’s the spot, right there!”

Get it? Grace is a place where you experience a power because you have met a Person. Nobody knows but YOU when that moment occurs. It is that moment when you realize that you cannot, and you will not, live another day outside this place called Grace.

So let me now ask the question — “Have you arrived there yet?”

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Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound!

February 27th, 2011 No comments

“Let us come boldly to the throne of Grace.” Hebrews 4:12-16

John spoke to the vast crowd once more from the Pavilion, “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need; you will abound to every good work. Doing good, and being good; bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God as you stand under the covering of His amazing grace!”

Then Daniel and the Three Hebrew Children began to play a familiar chorus, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.”

The band picked up on it and joined in with the instruments. And like a prairie fire swept by a mighty wind, the melody spread throughout the vast crowd gathered in Monumental Park. We lifted our voices together and sang the song of the Ages.

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see!
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved!
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

Though many danger, toils and snares I have already come,
‘twas grace that brought me safe thus far; and grace will lead me home!
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shinning as the sun!
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun!

war in heavenThen John lifted his voice above the crowd and said, “A great battle was fought as the powers of darkness sought to seize the Throne of Heaven. The Lord girded Himself in battle array and led His Saints and Angels into the conflict. The full arsenal of Hell was unleashed in one desperate attempt to topple the King and take control of all things. There was loss on both sides as the War unfolded all around, reaching a terrifying and chaotic pitch.

And then, suddenly, there was silence. The last shot had been fired, the final blow had been landed. We who survived stood in the fog of war waiting to learn of its outcome. A breeze began to blow across the vast battlefield, and slowly the smoke and dust started to clear. We stood on tiptoe looking about for some sign that would signal what would happen next.

A ray of golden sunshine pierced through the lingering clouds and we saw it. First, a sparkle from a jewel in the Royal Crown. Then, the golden glow of its untarnished splendor. It was but a moment longer until someone closer to the epicenter shouted out in exuberant triumph – “Hallelujah! Jesus Reigns!!”

That word of triumph swept through the battlefield and we raised our voices to heaven as one, “Hallelujah! Jesus reigns!!”

And then King David shouted, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah (Psalm 24:7-10)

At that we all joined together and shouted, “Hallelujah! Jesus reigns!!” And once again we began to sing, “Amazing Grace!” After some time we slowly began to disperse. Our group headed toward the west end of Monumental Park to plan our next move.

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That No One Fail

February 26th, 2011 No comments

“Guard against turning back from the grace of God. Let no one become like a bitter plant that grows up and causes many troubles with its poison.” (Heb 12:15, GNB)

It was obvious that many in our tour group were disturbed by what they experienced in the Dark Corner of Disgrace. They needed a word of encouragement, and so I said, “Praise and Prayer always go together, and ascend as a sweet aroma of faith and love before the God of Heaven and Earth.”

And then I prayed, “O Lord Jesus, we, Your ransomed people whose lives are being rebuilt from the ruins of selfishness and sin, yield our humbled hearts to become the habitation of the Lord.”

As I spoke, God began to fill us with His Spirit!

help othersKing David stepped down from the stage and said to us, “God takes no pleasure in the fall of His children, nor in the shame that scars their lives. He is great in mercy and abounding in grace. Ever ready to receive and to restore, He waits with open arms to embrace freely and fully all who turn to Him and call upon His name.”

Solomon, his son, joined him and said, “We learn from those who have fallen, as well as from those who have stood faithful to the end. We have received grace and mercy; therefore we extend grace and mercy to others. For our single desire is to be like the Lord.”

“Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look after one another,” Paul then added, ” to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace. This will prevent any root of bitterness from shooting forth and causing trouble for many.”

In light os this, may I ask you a question? Where are you, dear friend, in your life? Where has the road taken you thus far? Are you tossed about with uncertainties? Halting in your devotions, and flagging in your zeal? Are you hot one day, and cold the next? Has your affection faded and your commitment softened? Does your heart hunger for something more?

Perhaps in these following words of an anonymous poet, you might find a voice for your own feelings…and deeper longings.

O the shame and bitter sorrow that a time could ever be,
When I let my Savior’s mercy plead in vain, and proudly answered,
“All of self, and none of Thee!”

Yet He found me. I beheld Him dying on the cursed tree.
I heard Him pray, ‘Forgive him Father.’ And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of Self, and some of Thee.”

Day by day His tender mercy; healing, helping, guiding me;
Sweet and strong, and O so patient, brought me lower till I whispered,
“Less of Self and more of Thee!”

Now higher than the highest heavens! Deeper than the deepest seas!
Lord, at last Thy Love has conquered! Grant me now my soul’s desire:
“None of Self, and all of Thee!”

May the grace of God empower you to live in the full measure of His will for your life! May you be a source of joy and encouragement to others around you, inspiring them to forsake lesser things and pursue the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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The Dark Corner of The Disgraced

February 25th, 2011 No comments

“You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted; you will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen.” (Isaiah 1:29)

The sight before me seemed to contradict everything that was going on about me. It looked like a graveyard; untended and overgrown with thorns and weeds. It was dark and damp; and seemed so out of place. Yet, here it was, off in a corner of Monumental Park.

Etched in a stone arch at the gateway of this dark corner were these words: “The wretch, concentered all in self, doubly dying shall go down unto the vile dust from which he sprung – unwept, unhonored, and unsung.” (Sir Walter Scott)

graveyard of fallenI looked inside and I saw that there were five ashen stone markers on this plot of desolate ground.

The first marker had but one word on it – “Insignificance.” It was erected as a witness to the woeful failure of Lot, Abraham’s kinsman. The second darkened stone said, “I have played the fool.” They were the dying words of King Saul.

The third marker said, “Ephraim is joined to his idols; leave him alone.” (Hosea 4:17). And the fourth marker read, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (2 Timothy 4:10). These words were written by Paul the Apostle.

These Four Stones tell a Sobering Tale.

The story of Lot is nothing but pathetic. He was a close kinsman of Abraham, God’s friend. Lot had every privilege and blessing he would ever need to live a full, free, and prosperous life. But he chose to go his own way, settling for less than God’s best.

Turning away from Abraham, Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom – the doomed city. The first thing Lot saw every morning when he awoke, and the last thing he saw every night before he fell asleep – was Sodom. What a man gives himself to continually gaze upon will soon possess him.

We discover later in Lot’s story that he moved into the city and became vexed by its great evil. When the Angels visited him to warn of the coming destruction, he made a pitiful request, asking if he could be permitted to settle in a small town some distance from doomed Sodom. The Angels granted him his request.

The name of the town was Zoar, which means “insignificant.” And there is where his life ended. An insignificant man living an insignificant life in an insignificant town – disgraced.

King Saul also stands as the ultimate example of a man who had everything needed to succeed – and yet he failed miserably. God anointed with His Spirit, gave him victory in battle, empowered him to prophesy, and rallied Israel to his support. But he tossed it all aside.

His own words sum it up in clear and pathetic finality – “I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly” (1 Sa 26:21). His life ended on the battlefield as he fell upon his own sword to prevent the pagan Philistines from capturing him alive. He died as a man disgraced.

Ephraim came to a unhappy end. Several tribes bore his name and carried it into shame and disgrace. Chosen by God to be doubly fruitful in all things, they joined themselves to idols and reaped great sorrow of soul. They drank themselves into a stupor, and then gave themselves over to every sexual deviation imaginable. They loved shame more than honor. Their lives ended in disgrace.

Demas, a potential champion in the New Testament, traveled and ministered with Paul on several missionary campaigns. Had he stayed the course in faithfulness his name would be held in high esteem today. But he quit. At the moment he was most needed by Paul, the waffling man bolted and sought pleasure over sacrifice; temporal delight over eternal gain. The man’s life in a single word? Disgraced.

There was yet one more stone set in that disturbing and disgraceful place – but it was blank. The words were pending, not yet written. As I gazed upon it a frightening sense came over my being. I knew that this singular stone was awaiting the outcome of a life that was yet being lived – mine, and yours.

So, my fellow traveler — what will it be? Grace? Or, disgrace?

After a time of deep reflection I returned to the Pavilion of Praise to rejoin our tour group. “What were you looking at over there?” several asked, as I drew near.

“You will need to go see for yourself,” I answered. “But do so quickly, for you dare not tarry long in a place where others have so shamefully fallen.”

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The Pavilion of Praise

February 24th, 2011 No comments

“Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (Psalm 33:1-3)

blue water fallThe Pavilion of Praise was draped with a beautiful royal-blue curtain; the deepest, richest blue I have ever seen. When Moses concluded, the curtain opened and there was a band. Not just any band, mind you; this was a “one of a kind” band that left us speechless.

King David was on the guitar, and his son, Solomon was playing keyboards. James and John, the sons of thunder, were also in the band. James played bass, and John was the lead singer. Obadiah was on the drums; and I must admit, he could really carry a beat.

The horn section consisted of Daniel and the three Hebrew Children — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedego; man could they blow! Completing the band as back-up vocals were Mary and Martha, along with Mary Magdalene.

Before the curtain had completely opened they began to play and sing. John belted out his praise in perfect harmony with the Sisters. Daniel and Fiery Trio lifted up the horns of salvation and blew it out of the park!

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev 4:11)

And they sung a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:9-10)

And then we all cried with a loud voice, “Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb!” And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever! Amen.” (Rev 7:10-12)

Then King David shouted, “Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise! For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalm 33:3, and 84:11)

And a great shout went up from the Pavilion of Praise.

Then John the Beloved, Jesus’ best friend and Apostle, stepped to the mike and said, “We were there with Him in the beginning. We walked with Him, talked with Him; we ate together and traveled the land together. We have touched with our hands and seen with our eyes the certainty of what we now bring to you.

“Jesus came, full of grace and truth. And of His fullness we all have now received – grace upon grace! There is no end to the power of His presence, nor to His faithfulness in making Himself known to us – right where we are! ”

Daniel said, “He was with me in the Lion’s Den!” and the Hebrew Children said, “And with us in the fiery furnace! His presence loosed us from our bonds and kept us from the flames!” Mary Magdalene said, “He was there for me when I needed Him most!” Obadiah shouted, “Glory to God!” and started pounding out a drum solo.

Then, all along the Corridor of Time (a huge walkway in the middle of Memorial Park) there assembled a multitude of men and women, boys and girls from every age of history – all singing the praises of Jesus.

There was Adam and Eve, Joseph and his brothers; there was Father Abraham, walking hand in hand with Isaac and Ishmael. We could see Joshua, Deborah, Naomi and Ruth. With them was Rahab, radiant in grace. We looked and saw, walking with them, Joshua, and Samson; there was Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Elijah the Prophet. Also in their company were the other Apostles, Mary and the faithful women; we saw Luke, and Mark, along with a great host of others.

All of them had their hands raised to heaven and were singing aloud the praises of the King! “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.” (Psalm 45:1-2)

It seemed in that moment as if Time and Space had been suspended and we all were lifted into another realm.

Just then something caught my eye off in the corner of Monument Park; something so “out of place” that I had to take a closer look to see what it was.

As I walked toward the strange sight, Solomon called out to me from the Pavilion and said, “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame.” (Pro 3:33-35)

I was about to see exactly what he meant.

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Living in the Overlap of Two Worlds

February 23rd, 2011 No comments

“Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” (Luke 11:2)

“So, Moses, are you saying that we will never sin again?” a guy from the group asked.

“No,” Moses kindly answered, “I am saying that Jesus will never sin. And He is now living in you, and will show Himself through you as you stand in Grace.”

“That sounds wonderful,” another replied. “But how does it work?”

a walk in the woods“Let me put it this way,” Moses answered. “Did you ever notice that the first thing Jesus said when He went public with His ministry was, ‘Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand?’”

“Yes,” we all replied.

“But then later He told His disciples to pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come.’ So, let me ask — which is it? Is the Kingdom here, or is it yet to come?”

We stared in silence.

Moses then said, “Friends, it is BOTH!”

When Jesus came to this earth He brought the Kingdom of God with Him, as an invasion into a fallen world. Day by day, miracle by miracle, person by person, sermon by sermon – He began spreading the redeeming influence of His Kingdom. He went about doing good, healing all who were overpowered by the devil, for God was with Him.

After He rose from the dead and ascended into glory, He sent forth His Holy Spirit and filled His people with His presence and power that we might follow in His steps and continue His mission. Living as He lived, and doing as He did.

And when He returns again, He will bring the Kingdom in it fullness. God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven — completely! So the Kingdom is here, and it is yet to come.

Until That Day, we live in the overlap of two Worlds. One, is the Fallen World which resulted when Sin entered; and with Sin, Death came. The other is The Risen World, which came about when Jesus conquered Sin and Death, and included us in His conquest.

We now live in both worlds at the same time. And that is why we have experiences that seem to contradict one another. One day is filled with glory; the next is filled with grief. One day we have victory; the next day, defeat. One day our prayers work with power; the next they seem to fall dead to the ground. One day we triumph in temptation; the next we falter and sin.

Nevertheless! Because Christ is in us, the power of His presence – His Grace – now lifts us above the claims of this lesser world. What I am saying is that you longer have to sin – as though there were no choice. You have been freed from the chains that held you as slaves to sin, and now you can yield yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead!

Where you once were slaves to sin, and doomed to live in perpetual unrighteousness, now you are forgiven, free, and filled with the Spirit of God. You can live a truly righteous life – even in an unrighteous world! And that is why Paul wrote, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under Grace!”

When you humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God – especially in the face of overpowering trials and temptations – God gives His grace in abundance. And, where sin did abound; Grace does much more abound! And while you may not be able to handle the challenge by yourself – you are no longer left to yourself to do so. Christ is in you, and He can handle it through you!

“God will not permit you to be tested above what you are able to bear, and with the trial He will also provide a way of escape so that you may bear the moment in victory. The way of escape which God has provided is GRACE – the empowering presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do – right where you are!

Thus it is written, “Let us come boldly to the Throne of Grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help us in our time of need!”

“Oh, give God praise for His amazing grace!” Moses cried out, with triumph in his voice and glory on his face.

By this time a great crowd had gathered at the Pavilion of Praise, and we all began to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

It was truly awesome.

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The Law of the Lord is Perfect

February 22nd, 2011 No comments

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).

Moses with the Law“The Law of the Lord is perfect,” Moses began, “but it was put into the hands of imperfect men — beginning with me.”

He paused for a moment of personal reflection, unable to mask the pain in his heart as he recalled that unforgettable moment.

“When I came down from the Mountain and saw the people worshipping a Golden Calf, I threw the Tablets in anger and they broke. I didn’t realize at the time how profoundly symbolic that moment was for us all. Even before we actually received The Law — we broke it. We were guilty…and doomed.

“But God was merciful and gave us a second set of Tablets. Yet, the more we tried to obey The Law – the more we realized how powerless we were to do so. At length, that which was pure and perfect became a thing that condemned us in our fallen state. We knew all too well that we were wicked; but our anguish was multiplied by the deeper knowledge that we were also powerless to change ourselves!

Can a leopard change his spots? How then can we do good, who are accustomed to doing evil? And what is  worse, even when we do a good thing, it becomes defiled by pride in our own our self-righteousness.

We were a stubborn and stiff-necked people; resisting God every step of the way. At one point He offered to send us on ahead without Him. He said an angel would go with us, but not Him. “NO!” I cried out. “For if Your presence not go with us how shall it be known that we have found grace in your sight? What else will distinguish us from all other peoples on the face of the earth?” (Ex.33:1-16)

He did go with us! And over time we began to see that, like a School Master – true and unyielding in the administering of truth and wisdom – The Law was actually moving us forward to a time when the Law Giver would actually come and live inside each one of us as The Law Keeper!

“And thus when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem us!”(Gal 4:4) Christ in you is the hope of glory! For this reason we affirm boldly that sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace!” (Rom 6:14) 

Yes, “the power of Christ to do God’s will is with us – right where we are. And it is far greater than the power of sin! For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8:3-4).

“And the fruit which The Spirit produces in our lives is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law!

“Yes, God gave me the tablets written on Stone. But when One came who is far greater than me, Jesus the Son of God — God wrote His Law on the tablets of our hearts. And now Christ lives in us, empowering us to live out in our daily lives the righteousness of the Law by His Grace!! And this is what now distinguishes you from all the peoples on the face of the earth. It is His grace – the power of His presence in you!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:1-2)

“The question then is this. Will we continue to live in the power of the flesh, or by the power of the Spirit? With carnal minds, or with spiritual minds? For to be carnal-minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

“And I am persuaded of better things concerning you my friends. For I can see that you have journeyed to this place called Grace on purpose.

“I can see in you what is true of all who love the Lord – you have embraced The Cross as your own! You have been raised from the dead to walk in newness of life! You are being filled with the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, and He is quickening you to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power – His Amazing Grace!!!” (see Col 1:10-11). 

Moses’ face began to sine with such glory that we almost had to avert our eyes. It was beautiful beyond description.

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Monumental Park

February 21st, 2011 No comments

“Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations(Psalm 135:13).

gift of lightIn this place called Grace there is a City Park; Eden-like in it’s beauty, and magnificent in its significance. It is called Monumental Park. And in the center of this Park stands a large marble replica of The Tablets, upon which God wrote the Ten Commandments.

The park architect designed the topographical layout in such a way that from one unique vantage on a high mound called Faith Point one can actually look down The Corridor of Time and see, in perfect alignment with The Law, an Old Rugged Cross on a Hill Far Away. And just beyond the Cross, an Empty Tomb. And off in the far distance beyond the Tomb, a Great White Throne. It is a breathtaking view.

Throughout the Park is an variety of other notable sculptures, each marking some epic moment in the unfolding story of Redemption. There is The Lamb of the Garden, whose skin was used to cover the Guilty Pair. There is a replica of Noah’s Ark, celebrating God’s power to save in a time of great judgment. And there is also a Burning Bush; actually burning in the Park, yet not being consumed. You have to see it to believe it.

And there is a brilliant sculpture of The Ark of the Covenant, and though carved in stone it still seems to pulsate with a Holy Presence that silences all who stand near it.

While quiet and reflective, the Park is always filled with people walking about. On this particular day, word has spread quite rapidly that Moses himself is strolling the grounds. Someone said he was seen walking toward the Pavilion of Praise, near the Waters of Life.

Let’s go there and see if we can speak with him.

His eyes were bright and almost piercing as he smiled at us and said, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and behold, all things are become new.”

I said, “Amen.” The tattooed guy in our tour group said, “Rock on, Dude!” Both remarks made perfect sense to Moses.

“Mr. Moses, May I please ask a question?” a young southern girl inquired, in that genteel manner most common among those from the South.

“You may indeed,” Moses replied.

“Can you help us understand what it means for us to no longer be under the Law, but under Grace? There seems to be real confusion over this.”

“It will be my pleasure,” Moses said.

And we all drew in close to hear what he had to say.

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The Shout of Grace!

February 20th, 2011 No comments

“The glory of the latter house shall be greater than that of the former.” (Haggai 2:9).

Apollos had captured our imaginations as he described the Rubble of Zerubbabel in great eloquence. And he stirred our hearts with faith and hope when he then made application of his message to our lives.

“In the old days great stories were written about the lives and lore of an ancient people who were chosen by God to bear His presence and message to the whole world,” Apollos said. “We see and learn in them many great truths for ourselves.

“They were not chosen because they were worthy; neither are we. They had no merits that qualified them to serve and represent God to the world; neither do we. They were stubborn and stiff-necked, disobedient and slow to understand; and so are we.

“But God loved them; and He loves us. He blessed them, and redeemed them. At times He humbled them, and then heard their cries and turned again to save them.

“The one epic story that illustrates this perhaps better than any other is The Return From Captivity, and the Rebuilding of the Temple.

man in praise“Seventy long years had passed slowly as the children of the Lord languished in Babylonian Captivity. The last sight they had of the City of the Great King was a fading memory of horror and shame. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar had invaded, ravaged, desecrated, destroyed, and burned much of the Holy City. Billowing plumes of blacken smoke rose high into the hot sky as the oil-coated rocks burned until nothing was left but charred stones covered in greasy dirt.

“The Temple of the Lord had now become the habitation of jackals, snakes, and assorted desert wildlife. And when things looked the most hopeless, God stepped in and wrought a miracle of resurrection.

“The king of the pagan nation in which God’s people were held captive had a change of heart toward God and let His people go. Moreover, he charged them in the name of the Lord to rebuild the Temple and the Holy City, raising it up out of the burnt ruins. And, get this – he provided them all the resources they would need out of his own royal treasury! It was miraculous indeed.

“The people rallied with a renewed faith and set out for the Holy City. They talked excitedly all along the way of their return; each day growing more and more enthusiastic about the job that lay before them.

“But then they saw The City. It was worse than they had imagined; far worse. In fact, it no longer even looked like a city at all. Rather, its appearance was that of a huge pile of disjointed rocks; burnt and covered with years of untouched dirt. The only signs of life were peasants who had established makeshift tent cities, strewn about the colossal debris. And there were the wild animals roaming freely amid the ruins.

The challenge they faced in rebuilding a holy temple from the ruins of toppled debris is not at all different from what we face in seeing our own ruined and ravaged lives redeemed and set right before the Lord today.

Have we not lived in a long captivity to Confusion? Has not the Temple of the Lord been desecrated in our hearts and lives. Haven’t fires burned, and windstorms blown, and dust accumulated on the altars of our devotions to God? And does not a dark and intimidating presence taunt us with our powerlessness to do anything about it?

The word which God gave to Zerubbabel is now given to us. “It’s not by might, it’s not by power; but it is by My Spirit,” says the Lord.

And like those faithful rebuilders of old, we too will lift The Shout of Grace up to heaven. Yes, we will boldly bear witness to the power of Christ at work in our lives, enabling us to be who God created us to be and to do what He has called us to do – right where we are.

“So, my dear friends and fellow-builders, take heart. Whatever obstacle it is that you face, stare it down and shout, “Grace! Grace!” For when you do so, you are actually releasing God’s empowering presence into the circumstance and He will work His wonders of love – redeeming your lives from the rubble of Zerubbabel!”

Then Apollos lifted his hand and spoke this blessing over us, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14).

When Apollos concluded he was joined on stage by all the other speakers. And we all stood and honored them for their faithful service and inspiring words.

Once the series of stimulating Lectures concluded and we all tarried in the lobby, interacting with the speakers and other groups who had also journeyed to this place called Grace. There was a deep sense of privilege in all our hearts for being in this place of Grace together.

“Across the Way from the Great Hall of Truth is Monumental Park,” Paul said. “Let’s all meet there tomorrow. There is going to be a concert you will not want to miss!”

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The Rubble of Zerubbabel

February 19th, 2011 No comments

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zec 4:6)

Thank you, Timothy, for your kind words. Thank you all for your warm reception. And I thank God for this opportunity to speak about the glories of His grace! I hope to show you the extraordinary power of Grace by looking at a historic moment in the Old Testament, and then making prophetic application for our lives today.

Jerusalem DestroyedThere once was a beautiful City. It was the joy of the whole Earth; beautiful for situation – the City of the Great King. Its people were blessed and highly favored by God, and covered by His mercy and grace.

But they were strangely stubborn and self-willed. They despised the King’s grace and labored long in obstinate disobedience.  It made no sense to anyone. Even Heaven itself was astonished at their glaring defiance and hardened indifference to the King’s great love.

Even the Great King Himself cried out, “Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror! My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:12-13)

After some time an enemy arose and was permitted by the King to invade and destroy the City, leading the people away with shame to live a long captivity in a City called Confusion. There they languished under the bitter oppression of harsh task masters until, after decades of defeat and sorrow – they cried out to their King for deliverance.

In His great mercy the King answered and delivered them with a strong hand. They returned to the ruins of their once beautiful City, empowered with the faith and the resources to rebuild it. Their leader, Zerubbabel, inspired them with vision and passion for the great work ahead.

But their high hopes were shattered when they saw just how vast the devastation was, and how humanly impossible the task of rebuilding would be. For, rising before them where there once was a Great Temple and a Beautiful City, there now stood a mountainous pile of rocks; which seemed to be quite immovable.

At that moment the King sent a prophet, saying, “It is not by might, nor by power; but by My Spirit, says the Lord.”

The prophet then turned and faced the massive pile of rocks and said, with a tone of holy sarcasm in his voice, “And what are you, O Great Mountain? This man Zerubbabel shall turn you into a mole hill! Yes! He will clear away the stones and fit each one in its place, rebuilding this Temple and this City. And he will bring forth the finishing Capstone, placing it firmly where it belongs.

And in that crowning moment all the people will shout, “Grace! Grace!” For they will know that the Lord’s hand empowered them to do this impossible thing. 

(to be continued)

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