Saturday, July 21, 2007

the gladness of His heart

Go out, O daughters of Zion, and look upon King Solomon, with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, on the day of the gladness of his heart.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"-- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."

I saw the most amazing truth this evening. I was sitting in a class on the Song of Solomon, and the last verse of the passage we were looking at was the one at the beginning of this post. If you have been in the kingdom any length of time, you know that the scriptures describe the relationship between Jesus and the church as a Bridegroom and a Bride. And the Song of Solomon is primarily a poem describing many aspects of that relationship. Its a short book, but absolutely loaded with truths about our life with Him.

So... the teacher was talking about a number of principles found in the passage, and they were all really good, but when he got to the end, I was stunned. In speaking of Jesus, the Bridegroom, it describes His wedding day as "the day of the gladness of His heart." Amazing. We really don't understand the depths of His love. He is really looking forward to the wedding day. He is really looking forward to that full, unbroken face to face fellowship we will enter into on that day. I have often heard people talk about how much we should look forward to that day, but never really thought about how Jesus is looking forward to it. God is anxious for the day when we will fully be one. Sin and this fallen world will be dealt with fully, and we will go forward freely in the love that He created us for. And He calls that "the day of the gladness of His heart."

Truly... "blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."

And it makes me take more seriously a passage just before that, "his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure."

Lord, strengthen your Bride to make herself ready.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ain't it the truth

Pro 19:3 When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.

No comment necessary...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Exalting Jesus

Been thinking a little about the roles of men and women at this time. Marriage. Church leadership. The scriptures. Political correctness. Courage. Truth. Humility.

Think about this one.

Your pastor wants to teach a message about the bride of Christ, and he asks you to get some volunteers to put together a skit as a visual aid.

You write a story illustrating how Jesus and the church function together, and put out a call for interested people to come to a practice at the church building on Saturday afternoon. You stand before the group, explain the story line, and announce that there are basically two parts. One person is needed to play Jesus, and everyone else gets to be the church. One person gets to be the Bridegroom, and the others get to be the Bride.

"So... who wants to be Jesus?" Almost everyone in the room raises their hands.

"Ooooooookay...hmmm. Well then, who wants to be the Bride?" A few people timidly raise their hands, probably embarrassed that they weren't bold enough to want to play the lead role.

Now you have a problem. You have a story to tell to assist the pastor in his teaching, but it wont work unless the participants are willing to accept whatever role you assign them. So again, you go back over the story line with the group, and explain that you only need one Jesus, and that everyone else will need to be part of "the church." You want to demonstrate to the congregation what it looks like when the church loves Jesus and follows Him in trusting obedience. The role of the church is just as important in the skit as the role of Jesus. It will illustrate to the audience what it looks like to relate to him as our Bridegroom and King. Without the people who "play" the church, the story can't be told. You explain that the purpose is not to show the congregation what great acting gifts we each have, but to tell a story. The telling of the story is the reason you have come together. And the only way that the story can be properly told is if each person can accept whatever role is given to them.

You look around the room and choose Bill Jones to play the role of the Bridegroom. Everyone else will have roles as part of the Bride. Now the problems really begin.

John Brown stands up, "This isn't fair! Bill gets to play the most important part. I am a pretty good actor. I had the lead role in my high school play. I think I should get a chance to play Jesus."

Another guy speaks up, "The rest of us will look like we aren't important. We'll just be up there taking up space."

And then there was Mary Smith, "Yea... I didn't come out here to just stand in the background. I have more talent than anyone here. My gifts are being wasted!" And from there, play practice broke down into people arguing and fighting about who is most qualified to play what they see as the most important role.

No one had noticed when the pastor had slipped in the back door of the room. He sat quietly watching the scene unfold. It didn't look like the skit was going to happen. He could still preach his message. He could still teach the ideas. The Holy Spirit would still use him to reveal fresh understanding of our eternal calling as Jesus' Bride. But the living illustration he had hoped to use to help make the whole thing clear and understandable wouldn't be happening. Nobody was humble enough to play the supporting role. And no one was really qualified to play the lead, either. They had their eyes on the throne, but forgot that He got there by way of the cross. Everyone was concerned with the fulfillment of their own personal goals and desires. Everyone was looking for importance and significance. The sad thing was, no one could see the incredible value and significance of being the church, the Bride. And everyone was so absorbed in their own desire for recognition, that they forgot that the whole point of the story was to exalt Jesus. They forgot that we have to lose our lives in order to find them.

"I must decrease, He must increase."

The pastor shook his head sadly, and slipped out quietly. There wouldn't be a skit this Sunday.

Oh well...

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Its not about power. Its about telling a story. Its about demonstrating the kingdom.

Its about exalting Jesus.

This one will probably get me in trouble.

Oh well...