Monday, November 27, 2006

Unwrapping His Gifts

"Mary....sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word." Luke 10:34

In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me." Matthew 26:55

Sitting quietly at the feet of the teacher Jesus seems so innocuous and passive. But it is startling to trace the subsequent, radical actions of those who sat in that place.

Mary of Bethany was moved to profound love; eventually that love brought her to the point of pouring her costly alabaster flask of ointment out on His feet.

The multitudes, on the other hand, were moved to violent action. They came as a mob to arrest Jesus, bringing clubs and swords against the gentle teacher.

Why such radically opposite responses to the words of Jesus?

Because the inner ear must be opened before His words can be perceived and understood.

Often, Jesus sought to awaken that "inner ear" in His listeners. Thus the warning, "Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears do you not hear?" Mark 8:17-18

What was it that Jesus wanted so badly for His listeners to comprehend?

The realities of the unseen spiritual world. The things freely given us by God that are for a season veiled to our senses.
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

The Apostle Paul also spoke of these unseen realities. He said "we speak wisdom among those who are mature...we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory..." 1 Corinthians 2:6-7
Those who are mature are like Mary of Bethany, who fixed her inner eye on Jesus and trained her inner ear to listen to His voice.

Like Christmas gifts waiting to be unwrapped, God has prepared wonderful things for those who love Him. But they cannot be apprehended by the mere physical act of hearing or seeing. "God has revealed them to us through His Spirit." 1 Cor. 2:10

What are these freely given gifts that God has prepared for us?
Scripture tells us that the following things have been prepared for the believer:
~a table set before us in the presence of our enemies
~a place, a mansion for our future habitation
~a city
~good works prepared in advance for us to do

A.W. Tozer once said, "The mind can grasp the shell, but only the Spirit of God can lay hold of the internal essence."

Although I KNOW there is a table prepared for me, only my sanctified imagination can begin to picture it. All of the bounty laid out on my earthly table reminds me of this promise.

He has assured me that He has prepared a mansion for me, and all of the lovely houses on earth that I admire and long to live in stimulate a deeper longing for my true, eternal home.

I begin to see in all of life shadows of eternal glories.

Quoting again from Tozer, "The value of the cleansed imagination lies in its power to perceive in natural things shadows of things spiritual."

This season, as I cast my eyes once again on the glittering sights and sounds of Christmas, I'll be unwrapping His gifts. I can almost hear Him whisper, "If you think this sparkles, wait till you see what I have prepared for you up here!"

Happy unwrapping!

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