UP A TREE

November 26, 2014

Luke 19:8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods iI give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
Luke 19:9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.

I love to read the story of Zacchaeus. Just like many stories in the Bible, there is much there that can be missed by a casual reading. There are some critical bits of information that Luke gave us in this story that speaks volumes to the power of Zacchaeus’s conversion. First, he climbed up a tree. Rich people don’t climb trees unless their life is in danger. Obviously, Zacchaeus had seen the perilous condition his soul was in without Christ, that’s why he was up a tree. Secondly, he was a chief tax collector. This is the only time we see this phrase in the Bible. This tell us three things about Zacchaeus; he was incredibly powerful, he was terribly wealthy, and he was hopelessly corrupt. The word publican (tax collector) was used as a synonym for sinner. His conversion was shocking and very significant in the city of Jericho. Here are some insights from the New International Commentary.

“ A mighty revolution had taken place in Zacchaeus’s life through his becoming personally acquainted with Jesus. As a result, probably when they again left the house and the Lord was about to join the multitude to go to Jerusalem, he declared openly that he has decided ( as a spontaneous act of repentance, love, and gratitude) to give half of his goods to the poor and in every case to restore fourfold whatever he had taken in the past by heartless extortions (when collecting the customs). The Savior’s influence on his life made him realize his selfish attitude towards his possessions and his sinful uncharitableness toward persons from whom he had exacted more than the lawful amount in customs. So fixed in his determination, as the outcome of his change of heart, to give half his goods to the needy and to redress any wrongs committed, that he declares: “I give.” He does not say here what he has been accustomed to in the past, but confesses by implication that he has been guilty in the past but wishes to change everything immediately, now that Jesus has come into his life. Probably he immediately began handing out money to those that needed it”.

Jesus has a way of turning a city upside down. Maybe your testimony is intended to effect your world. Respond to the Lord like Zacchaeus and your world will be turned upside down too.

SHOW YOURSELF TO THE PRIEST

November 25, 2014

Luke 17:14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.

Heb. 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Go show yourself to the priests, “He must be kidding” the lepers murmured among themselves. Suddenly, one took off toward the temple and the rest were in hot pursuit. Then it happened, as they were running the power of God came upon them, the leprosy was gone. All ten of the lepers had been healed. That’s when the story gets good, one stopped in his tracks, turned back toward the village, and ran as fast as his legs would carry him back to the feet of Jesus. He got it. Why go to the ceremonial priests when the Great High Priest was right there. Jesus didn’t have the robes and the air of self importance like most preachers have, He was cloaked in humility, yet He was authentic. He was the High Priest that all others just shadowed. He was going to show himself to the heavenly High Priest. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on the spiritual insight of the leper who turned back.

“But love soon perceives that the substance is more precious than the shadow and to bow at the feet of the great High Priest must be a greater duty than to go before the lesser priests. So the healed leper went first to Jesus. In Him, the spiritual overrode the ceremonial. He felt that his main duty was in person to adore the divine person Who had delivered him from his fell disease. Let us go first to Jesus. Let us in spirit bow before Him. Ah, yes! Come to our services, join in our regular worship; but if you love the Lord, you will want something besides this; you will pine to get to Jesus Himself, and tell Him how you love Him. You will long to do something for Him by yourself, by which you can show forth the gratitude of your heart to the Christ of God.”

I can’t get those words out of my head, “Go show yourself to the Priest”. Actually, that’s a great way to start the day, go show yourself to the Priest this morning. As you do you too will experience the cleansing and healing power of the Lord.

DEEPEST LOVE KNOWS NO UTTERANCE

November 24, 2014

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY–

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah.3:17

Over 40 years ago my life drastically changed. Since then I guess I’ve been spending my time apprehending what grabbed a hold of me at the young age of 16. Today and many days I love to reflect on the love of God. The kids are grown, the house is quiet and I find my cup runneth over with how in the world did a girl like me find this GOD KINDA LOVE? I so remember the sorrow and the hopelessness I was surrounded in. Has God rocked your world? I found this quote that was so interesting.
“What a wonderful rush of exuberant gladness there is in these words! The swift, short clauses, the triple invocation in the former verse, the triple promise in the latter, the heaped together synonyms, all help the impression. The very words seem to dance with joy. But more remarkable than this is the parallelism between the two verses. Zion is called to rejoice in God because God rejoices in her. She is to shout for joy and sing because God’s joy too has a voice, and breaks out into singing. For every throb of joy in man’s heart, there is a wave of gladness in God’s. The notes of our praise are at once the echoes and the occasions of His. We are to be glad because He is glad: He is glad because we are so. We sing for joy, and He joys over us with singing because we do. His joy is in self-impartation; His delights are in the sons of men: ‘As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.’ His gladness is in His children when they let Him love them, and do not throw back His love on itself. As in man’s physical frame it is pain to have secretions dammed up, so when God’s love is forced back upon itself and prevented from flowing out in blessing, some shadow of suffering cannot but pass across that calm sky. He is glad when His face is mirrored in ours, and the rays from Him are reflected from us.”
His love for us is so deep that it finds no utterance than the cross. He rests in His love over me and no longer holds sin to my account. That in itself is huge! We can have a perpetual sabbath and find contentment knowing He loves us and has given us purpose. I pray your face reflects His and the rays of His love fall on everyone around. Now that is some good preaching and hope it jumpstarts your MONDAY!

PADDLING INTO DEEPER WATERS OF THANKSGIVING

November 23, 2014

Luke 17:15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;

Luke 17:16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

Don’t you hate to turn around after you have left your home to retrieve something that you have forgotten. I often pay the consequences of doing without, I just won’t turn back. I can imagine that feeling mixed with excitement when the ten men who had been lepers received their healing on the way to show themselves to the priest. They were so excited that turning around just wasn’t an option. At least that was true for nine of the ten, one of the healed lepers was stopped in his tracks. I imagine his head was spinning as he realized what had just happened. He had received more than a healing, he had been face to face with his Maker. He had no options, he had to turn around to give thanks and to just see Jesus again. Spurgeon preached a great sermon about this miracle, here is a short blurb.

“There is another blessing about thankfulness, it has clear views. The thankful eye sees far and deep. The man healed of leprosy, before he went on glorifying God, gave thanks to Jesus. If he had thanked Jesus and stopped there, I should have said that his eyes were not well open; but when he saw God in Christ, and therefore glorified God for what Christ had done, he showed a deep insight into spiritual truth. He had begun to discover the mysteries of the divine and human person of the blessed Lord. We learn much by prayer. Did not Luther say, ”To have prayed well is to have studied well”? I venture to add a rider to what Luther has so ably said: To have praised well is to have studied better. Praise is the great instructor. Prayer and praise are the oars by which a man may row his boat into the deep waters of the knowledge of Christ.”

Powerful! prayer and praise are the oars of our boat, I love it. Praising at His feet brings us into a deeper and more profound revelation of who He is. That in turn leads us deeper into praise. As we draw near to Thanksgiving Day, let’s take a lesson from the leper who turned back. Don’t hurry down the path, paddle out into the deeper waters in praise and worship. Thanksgiving has never tasted so good.

DON’T GRIEVE THE HOLY SPIRIT

November 22, 2014

Eph. 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Do you know what it means for someone to hurt your feelings? Maybe they raised their voice at you or said something you felt was disrespectful or maybe inappropriate words or jokes were shared. Then comes the kicker, “Don’t be so sensitive” they say; after they realize your feelings were smashed. Actually, being sensitive, is a positive trait not a negative one. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is sensitive. It is a good thing if coarse jesting, profanity, or harsh words hurt your feelings, they hurt the Holy Spirit’s feelings. Recently, R.T. Kendall spoke in our church about the sensitivity of the Spirit. He emphasized just how easily the Spirit is offended, or as Paul said, grieved. Since that teaching was given I have heard several people from the church being cautious of their words concerned about the possibility of grieving the Holy Spirit. Charles Spurgeon also cautions about grieving the Spirit in this commentary on today’s verse.

“O child of God, thou hast no life within thee apart from the life which God gives thee through His Spirit! Then let us not grieve Him or provoke Him to anger by our sin. Let us not quench Him in one of His faintest motions in our soul; let us foster every suggestion, and be ready to obey every prompting. If the Holy Spirit be indeed so mighty, let us attempt nothing without Him; let us begin no project, and carry on no enterprise, and conclude no transaction, without imploring His blessing. Let us do Him the due homage of feeling our entire weakness apart from Him, and then depending alone upon Him, having this for our prayer, “Open Thou my heart and my whole being to Thine incoming, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit when I shall have received that Spirit in my inward parts.”

If we really need the Holy Spirit to help us in all of our activities, if we really are totally dependent upon Him in all we do, we should be especially cautious about the possibility of grieving Him. Being insensitive with our words, our actions and thoughts can easily offend God. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about becoming unsaved because of grieving the Spirit: I’m just saying you may have to ‘go it alone’ without His help.

EXTRAVAGANT PRAISE

November 21, 2014

Luke 17:15 ¶ And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,

I’ll never forget the early days of Victory Fellowship. Often our services would be explosive, a church full of young people who were newly saved and unashamed of demonstrative worship. Sometimes our Sunday night services would go off into extended times of spontaneous singing. That atmosphere is the closest we get to heaven in this life. This kind of extravagant praise makes some people uncomfortable. You see wild, celebratory singing is not just a style. It is the overflow of joy that fills our hearts. Literally, we can’t help ourselves.

Revival is often characterized by this kind of celebration. It was said that the revival of 1904 in Wales was like that, the services would often go on for ours with nothing but worship and apparently no one in charge. Thousands of people were coming to Christ and ecstatic worship was just part of it. Apparently, Charles Spurgeon had some of that in his church in London in the 1800’s. Here is something he said about that.

“Some of our converts are very wild at times, they grow extravagant. Do not blame them. Why not indulge them? It will not hurt you. We are all so very proper and orderly that we can afford to have an extravagant one among us now and then Oh, that God would send more of that sort to wake the church up, that we also, might begin to praise God with heart and voice with soul and substance, with might and main! Hallelujah! My own heart feels the glow.”

What some think is fanaticism or excessive may be someone responding to the touch of God. I often think of the paralyzed man who was healed in the temple when Peter and John spoke to him. He went walking and leaping and praising God. When was the last time some one went walking, and leaping, praising God in your church? Has there ever been any leaping or praising? Maybe the reason our worship is not as powerful as Wales or the temple in Jerusalem is because of preconceived ideas and restraints we have put on worship. What’s wrong with walking and leaping anyway? At the end of the day, the leper in this story should respond with radical worship. He responded by falling on his face. The paralytic responded with walking and leaping. It’s your move, has the Lord done anything in your life worth getting excited about?

THE MAKING OF A WORSHIPER

November 20, 2014

Luke 17:19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

It takes more than a miracle to make a worshiper. The story of the healing of the ten lepers pretty much answers that; ten were healed, only one returned to worship and to give thanks. You would think that a miracle would turn everyone into worshipers, that is sadly not the case. Obviously we can’t go by every detail of every story or parable, but nine out of ten? That sounds about right. I have seen many people receive all sorts of miracles and, in time, seen many return to the pig sty they came out of. What was the difference between the Samaritan who returned to give thanks and all of the others who just went merrily on their way? The difference is revelation. The natural man thinks that God exists just as some sort of Genie to grant him three wishes toward his best life now. Revelation of Christ as Savior, Healer, and Holy God puts us on our face at His feet with the Samaritan. Seeing Christ for Who He is changes everything. Here are some thoughts on the blessing of thankfulness from Charles Spurgeon.

“The blessing of thankfulness is that it receives the largest blessing, for the Savior said to the man what He had not said to others, “thy faith hath made thee whole”. If you would live the higher life, be much in praising God. Some of you are in the lowest state yet, as this man was, for he was a Samaritan: but by praising God he rose to be a songster rather than a stranger. How often I noticed how the greatest sinner became the greatest praiser! Those that were farthest from Christ, and hope, and purity, when they become saved, fell that they owe the most, and therefore they love the best. May it be the ambition of every one of us, even if we be not originally among the vilest of the vile, yet to feel that we owe Jesus most: and therefore we will praise Him most: thus we shall receive the richest blessedness from His hands.”

Spurgeon is dealing with the heart of the issue. Worshippers are created when they see the greatness of their sin and the riches of His salvation. Those that were the furthest away often become the greatest worshippers. Where were you when Christ found you? How far has He brought you? Maybe its time to join the Samaritan at the feet of Jesus.

TEN VIRGINS

November 19, 2014

Matt. 25:6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

We used to sing a song back at Bible School called “Give Me Oil In My Lamp’. That really was a theme during the Jesus movement of the 1970’s. We preached, thought, and talked about the soon return of Christ often. It seems to me that falling asleep spiritually, the very point of the parable, is indicated by a lack of focus on the soon return of Christ. Being excited about His return seems to be connected to spiritual awakening, it just goes with the territory. What causes the church to awaken from her spiritual slumber? Could that be what the term ‘awakening’ is referring to? Could the present day church be sleeping? I think the answer is yes. Overall, the modern church, in the western world, is experiencing something like the turkey induced coma we often see on Thanksgiving Day after our dinner. We are in need of an awakening to prepare us for the return of the Lord. We don’t want to be asleep when He returns. Here are some comments from R.T. Kendall on the parable of the ten virgins.

“I believe the church is asleep at the present time. We don’t know we were asleep until we wake up. We do things in our dreams we would not do when wide awake. Likewise the church is involved in things it would have nothing to do with if awake. Also, the foolish hate the sound of an alarm, but the wise will welcome the wake-up call. This cry in the middle of the night I believe to be a move of the Holy Spirit—call it Isaac—prior to the Second Coming. The main thing is this: I believe that a great movement of the Holy Spirit is coming. I believe it is coming very, very soon. I hope to be alive when it comes. If I die first, I promise you: it will come.”

The exciting thing is this, we are primed and ready for a move of God. How do I know? The cry comes in the middle of the night. It is darker than it has ever been in our country, awakening can’t be far away.

What should we be concerned about personally? I guess that old song was prophetic. ‘Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning burning. Keep me burning til the break of day’.

FROM HARE KRISNAS TO JESUS FREAKS

November 18, 2014

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH, TO THE JEW FIRST, AND ALSO TO THE GREEK” ROM.1:16

It was the 70’s-I was the youngest sibling in my family. My brother played in a rock and roll band so I was accustomed to waking up to my room shaking with Jimmy Hendrix or Janis Joplin. I was so lost that as a young child after I saw the movie “Jesus of Nazareth”, I would find my sister’s horseshoe and promise to be “good” and throw it over my shoulder. My mother on some Saturday’s would clean the church that we would visit and alone in that little auditorium kneeing on my knees I would try to listen to something…..anything. Little did I realize that Christ was just a breathe away. He was closer that I ever dreamed. But unfortunately my journey took me down deep into drugs rebellion and at last the “Hare Krishnas”.  Eating vegetarian food was hard, and chatting the prayers 100 times on my special beads tiring. Funny every time I left the Krishna temple my weights seemed heavier and my guilt unbearable. During that infamous summer Frank and I went to see “JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR” where the movie shows multiple scenes of the crucifixion. Frank turned to me and said, “remember when Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, the life and no man comes to the Father except through me?” Later on that night we went to the lakefront and ran smack into some Jesus Freaks worshiping out there. Within a few weeks we found ourselves married and headed off to bible school in California. Immediately I found myself free from drugs, alcohol and found joy to my sorrows. To this day I found redemption to be my answer. When I play back the great tape of my life I can see the hand of God watching over me. Through the thick and the thin it was if I heard this inner voice telling me that my life would get better. All I can say is I never want to go back to that  “old life”! The Fire Bible says salvation means “bringing safety through” or “keeping from harm” among other things. Have you’ve experienced the power of God? God can deliver you from your present condition when you call upon the name of Jesus. Am I ashamed of the gospel? I believe many Christians have not totally understood their salvation and have become ashamed. We haven’t taken the time to realize or haven’t received the revelation of what Christ went through to save us. We will spend eternity understanding the width, height and length of His love.

DANGEROUS PRAISE

November 17, 2014

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.Psalm 51:15

I went to a Bible School near Fresno, California back in the 1970’s. Part of the curriculum at the school was evangelism. Each week there would be an evangelism assignment as part of the course requirements. There were some really unusual assignments designed to get the students out of the arena of fear, some of them were quite bizarre. One of my assignments was to go to a certain bar in Fresno with a tambourine. I was to get everyone’s attention by banging the tambourine and after I got everyone’s attention, sing “What Can Wash Away My Sin”. Actually the event turned out better than I could have imagined. All eyes were on me in the bar that day the moment I began to play the tambourine. After I finished singing the song they all stared at me as if to say “And so…”. I was able to preach just about everything I knew that night. All I can remember was the empty eyes and empty hearts staring out to me at the bar. Overcoming the fear of man is important when it comes to public worship. Check out what Luther had to say about the danger of worship.

“By asking the Lord to open his lips, David showed how difficult it is to offer thanks to God. This is something God demands of us. Talking about the Lord and thanking him publicly require an extreme amount of courage and strength, because the devil is constantly trying to stop us from doing this. If we could see all of Satan’s traps, we would know why David prayed for the Spirit’s strength and asked the Lord himself to open David’s lips. He wanted to tell the devil, the world, kings, princes, and everyone about the Lord. Many things can keep our lips shut: the fear of danger, the hope of gaining something, or even the advice of friends. The devil uses these ways to stop us from offering thanks to God, as I have often experienced in my life. And yet, at important times, when God’s honor was threatened, God stood by me and opened my mouth in spite of the obstacles. The Spirit urges us on—just as Peter says, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard”. The Spirit prays to God for us with many groans. Then the Lord opens our lips to announce his praise.”

So go ahead, stir up the gift of God, you may be amazed at the power of God that comes upon you and fills you up with courage. He will open your lips and fill you with His praise.


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