OPEN HEAVEN

October 31, 2014

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.

Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and

pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

MALACHI 3:10

Those of you that know me know that 1994 was a critical year in my life and ministry. It was the year of God’s visitation for thousands of people. For those that embraced and continued in that outpouring, their lives have never been the same. One of the impacts that took place right away is described in today’s verse. Our church began to see the profound connection between our tithing, God’s provision, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The prophetic word given by Malachi describes this phenomenon as an open heaven. Could it be that there is an intimate connection between the outpouring of the Spirit and supernatural provision? Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on that very point.

“This last promise in the Old Testament tells us how abundant God’s blessing will be. Pentecost was only the beginning of what God was willing to do. The promise of the Father, as Christ gave it, still waits for its perfect fulfillment.

What is it that we have to ask for, and what should we expect? Christ’s great command to go and preach the gospel was not only meant for the disciples, but for us, too. Christ’s last promise to His disciples, that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, was also meant for us. It is the grounds for the confident assurance that our prayers will be heard”

In Malachi’s prophesy, he is speaking about returning to the Lord. He says that one of the signs of a heart turning from the Lord is the withholding of their tithe. His passionate word is for Israel to turn back to the Lord, bring the tithe into the storehouse, and the Lord will open the windows of heaven. Malachi ends his prophesy with quite an amazing prediction. He said that the days are coming when the Spirit of God would turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the hearts of the children back to the fathers. Come on Lord! Think about it; open heaven, supernatural outpouring of the Spirit, supernatural financial provision, our families coming to Christ; sounds like a Great Awakening to me!!!

THE GREAT AWAKENING AGAIN

October 30, 2014

Psa. 85:6  Will you not revive us again,

that your people may rejoice in you?

About twenty years ago I became strangely enamored with the years just preceding the American Revolution. It was characterized by the birth of American evangelicalism by an outpouring of God’s Spirit on our land. Historians call this the Great Awakening. Thousands of colonial Americans experienced the new birth; some would say a national identity was birthed out of this common spiritual experience. As we are approaching the 250 year mark of the birthing of “One Nation Under God”, our country is drifting far away from her moorings. It is becoming more obvious everyday that we are in need of another Great Awakening. I was recently listening to the Christian recording artist Leeland. He has an album entitled the Great Awakening. The title song is actually a poem by Lawrence Tribble written at the end of the first Great Awakening that Leeland put to music. Here are the words of that poem.

AWAKE

(a poem by Lawrence Tribble, written on the eve of the American Revolution)

One man awake, awakens another.

The second awakens his next-door brother.

The three awake can rouse a town,

By turning the whole place upside down.

The many awake can make such a fuss,

It finally awakens the rest of us.

One man up with dawn in his eyes,

Surely then multiplies.

We have experienced several outpourings of the Spirit during my lifetime. none of these movements have had the profound impact that the one which birthed our nation had. In the beginning stages of the outpouring in our church in 1994, I became painfully aware of how revival starts in a very personal way. In order to pray for revival I had to be willing to let it start with me. What was the painful part? Revival starts with change. I had to be willing to let the Lord work a change in me before it could progress any further. That is what this poem, ‘Awaken’, is about. ‘One man awake, awakens another. The second awakens his next door brother.’ This is a description of spiritual awakening. It all starts with an individual. It starts when one man or woman becomes hungry for God. In 1734, this hunger flowed out of Jonathan Edwards and ultimately spread throughout the thirteen colonies. In 1738, the one man to awaken was George Whitfield in his dorm in England, England and the western world were dramatically effected. Maybe you will be that one man today. Only when you are awake can you awaken your next door brother.

THE RIVER

October 29, 2014

Ezek. 47:3 ¶ And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles.

Ezek. 47:4 Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist.

Ezek. 47:5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.

This is quite an amazing passage of scripture, Ezekiel recounting one of the many visions he had while in exile on the banks of the Chebar River. This particular vision is a picture of the temple of God with a river flowing out from the threshold. Of course the temple is a picture of Christ and the River is the River of the Spirit of God flowing out from the Lord.  An angel guide begins to take Ezekiel out into the River measuring a thousand cubits between each stop. The first stop the River measures ankle deep. This could be interpreted as a Christian being touched by the River and The River having an effect on his walk, how he lives his life. The second stop the River advances to the knees. This could mean that as the believer goes deeper into the River that prayer becomes a normal part of his life. The third stop has the River up to his waste, the actual direction and thrust of the Christian’s life is being influenced by the River of God. The final stop has the River going over Ezekiel’s head. This speaks to us of a life totally taken over by God. The believer’s entire life has been swallowed up, he has now taken on the identity of Christ.

You and I live in the time of the incredible fulfillment of this prophesy. The Spirit is being poured out on all flesh.

Our church, like many others, experienced an incredible touch of the River of God beginning in 1994. Shortly after the visitation began in our church I realized it had been going on in other places for several years and I was clueless. I don’t want to be clueless. Ezekiel’s River is flowing in our generation, wade out into the waters, let Him have more of your life. Soon, you may find yourself swimming in the River of God.

ALIEN EXILES

October 28, 2014

1Pet. 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, ¶ To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

It’s easy to misunderstand the significance of regeneration. The born again experience changes many things in our lives. Peter went so far as to call us elect exiles or temporary residents. This world and its culture is not our home nor our final destination. We have received a new nature, totally alien to the culture of this world. The more we try to conform to the culture all around us the more awkward it becomes. I have been privileged to travel to much of the world doing ministry trips in the last thirty five years. Every human culture is precious but often very different to what I am accustomed to in Southeast Louisiana. For me, it was good to enjoy these various cultures for a couple of weeks but at the end of the day there was no place like home. In a similar way this present world system is not our home, we are traveling pilgrims on our way to another land. Martin Luther recognized this valuable truth, here are some of his thoughts.

“Christians still have an external existence. While they live here on earth, they are nurtured by a mother and father, eat and drink, wear clothes and shoes, have a house and garden, and own money and property. They view all of this as if they were guests who were traveling through this land to another city—their true destination. When they arrive there, they will no longer care about the places where they stayed along the way. During the journey, they were always thinking, “Today, I am a guest. Tomorrow, I will continue my trip.” In the same way, a Christian also thinks, “Today, I am a guest on this earth. I eat and drink here. I live honorably and modestly in this life. But tomorrow, I’ll proceed on my way to an eternal life in the kingdom of heaven, where I am a citizen.” So Christians also journey through this life. When they come to the end of this life, they will let go of everything physical and enter a spiritual life that will never end”.

When you recognize this valuable reality then something else begins to dawn on us. We are here for a reason. The reason is not just to accumulate wealth or power, our goal is to impact people for the kingdom of God. Using Peter’s analogy, there are other elect exiles all around us, they just don’t know it yet. Our job is to share Christ and watch the light turn on in their heart.

LIVING PARALYZED

October 27, 2014

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY

“So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your week knees.” HEB 12:12

Recently, I literally woke up to horrible pain. After a series of doctor visits, emergency room, Chiro’s and physical therapists the MRI showed a herniated disk pressing on the sciatica nerve causing all sorts of havoc with my leg. Ouch! All walking, kayaking, biking-well everything had to be shelved. For someone that lived to go outside it became a hard pill to swallow. Lots of crying and learning how to deal with pain  was a challenge to the say the least. Psalm 40 became my verse of meditation as I waited for the new song to spring up. Seeing the situation wasn’t going away I decided to hang curtains and decorate my little dungeon. On top of the everyday pain, more storms blew in to deal with. Deep inside I knew the Lord would come and I wanted to be ready. Repentance, hurling myself on the mercy of God is so good for the soul. I used this dungeon time to make sure a root of bitterness didn’t spring up. In order to make things lighten up I would compare myself to  ” a sack of potatoes”. Just roll around really not doing much. PARALYZED!  God had my attention. This verse describes someone that Gill said; “Was from weariness and exhaustion. Renew your courage; make a new effort to bear them. The hands fall by the side when we are exhausted with toil, or worn down by disease. And the feeble knees – The knees also become enfeebled by long effort, and tremble as if their strength were gone. They were to make every effort to bear up under their trials. The hope of victory will do much to strengthen one almost exhausted in battle; the desire to reach home invigorates the frame of the weary traveler. So it is with the Christian. In persecution, and sickness, and bereavement, he may be ready to sink under his burdens. The hands fall, and the knees tremble, and the heart sinks within us. But confidence in God, and the hope of heaven, and the assurance that all this is for our good, will reinvigorate the enfeebled frame, and enable us to bear what we once supposed would crush us to the dust. A courageous mind braces a feeble body, and hope makes it fresh for new conflicts.”

You too might find yourself in a incredible dungeon. God promises to meet us down there. There is no time table with God. We have a mighty covenant that says  “The LORD will vindicate His people and relent concerning His servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free.” Deut. 32:36 LIFT UP YOUR HEADS! The King of Glory will show up!

TRUTH

October 26, 2014

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…

I love this title or description of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. In the original language of the New Testament the word translated truth is aletheia. It’s meaning is quite descriptive. This word truth means more than just correct or accurate information. It literally means the substance or essence of a matter. What Jesus is saying is that the Holy Spirit makes spiritual things real to us. You could call the Holy Spirit the Spirit of reality. When He comes upon us the Bible becomes real, Christ steps as a living Person into our lives, the Father’s love becomes precious to us, and we become aware of our need for salvation. Here are some thoughts by Spurgeon on the Spirit of Truth.

“Once let the truth of God obtain an entrance into the human heart and subdue the whole man unto itself, no power human or infernal can dislodge it. We entertain it not as a guest but as the master of the house—this is a Christian necessity, he is no Christian who doth not thus believe. Those who feel the vital power of the gospel, and know the might of the Holy Ghost as He opens, applies, and seals the Lord’s Word, would sooner be torn to pieces than be rent away from the gospel of their salvation. What a thousand mercies are wrapt up in the assurance that the truth will be with us for ever; will be our living support, our dying comfort, our rising song, our eternal glory; this is Christian privilege, without it our faith were little worth. Some truths we outgrow and leave behind, for they are but rudiments and lessons for beginners, but we cannot thus deal with Divine truth, for though it is sweet food for babes, it is in the highest sense strong meat for men.”

At the end of the day that is what all of us are looking for, we just want our Christian faith to be real. We are all tired of fake people, empty promises, and religious hype. To taste something that has the flavor of reality means everything, that is the role of the Holy Spirit. Without Him, religion is a form pumped up by human effort. With Him, it becomes joy unspeakable and full of glory.

IN US AND ON US

October 25, 2014

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

I know sometimes, when you are reading a devotion, you skip over the scripture and move quickly into the topic for today. Today, take an extra moment and read these two passages carefully. If you pay close attention you will see the two basic  ways the anointing of the Holy Spirit works in a Christian. In John 4:14, Jesus is talking about the anointing within us. The Holy Spirit within satisfies our thirsty soul and brings healing and completeness to our hearts. In this passage, the Lord is talking to a woman who is trying to find her satisfaction in the things of this world. Jesus told her if she would come to Him and drink she would never thirst again. There would be an artesian well of living water springing up inside of her.

In the second verse in today’s devotion, Jesus is prophesying about an anointing that would come upon His followers. In the gospel of Luke, He said we would be clothed with power from on high. The picture being painted is as if someone was putting on a coat. This coat is actually the supernatural enabling power of God. So looking at both of these passages we see that the Lord promised us a two-fold relationship with the Holy Spirit: the Spirit within us and the Spirit upon us.

Every Christian has the need in their lives for these two dynamic functions of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, we all face challenges to our faith every day. From suggestive clothing, widespread use of alcohol, and an overall casual approach to deliverance from sin, it is hard to be a Christian. The world looks for its identity and its pleasure in the diet of sin that the church casually overlooks. Only drinking from that fountain within, like the woman at the well, can take away that nagging itch that draws us to sin. Drinking from that river in our bellies  keeps us contented in Christ, free from the temptations and the pleasures of this world. The anointing upon us is also a powerful component in our lives. Its basic function is to anoint us to minister to the hurting people who are all around us. So today, determine to draw strength from the two anointings of the Spirit; the anointing within and the mantle upon.

CONSTRAINED BY LOVE

October 24, 2014

“The love of Christ constrains us.” —2 Corinthians 5:14

Our actions are directly related to what we love. One example of this is the crazy crimes that take place in our city every day. People do unthinkable things because of their passion for narcotics. Home invasions, car jackings, bank robberies; they all are directly related to people’s desire or love for drugs. Women who were once modest sell their bodies for the momentary enjoyment of heroin. It’s not uncommon for individuals to even rob from closest friends or family members because of their strong attachment to the pleasures of sin.

In a similar way, the love of God effects our actions. Many have left home, careers, and families because of the love of God and their desire to tell others. Many have died willingly because, like Paul, they were constrained by love. The love of God for fallen man was displayed by the death of Christ on the Roman cross, His love is poured out on whosoever will by the Holy Spirit. Charles Spurgeon was one who was captured by this love. Here are some of his thoughts.

“How much owest thou unto my Lord? Has He ever done anything for thee? Has He forgiven thy sins? Has He covered thee with a robe of righteousness? Has He set thy feet upon a rock? Has He established thy goings? Has He prepared heaven for thee? Has He prepared thee for heaven? Has He written thy name in His book of life? Has He given thee countless blessings? Has He laid up for thee a store of mercies, which eye hath not seen nor ear heard? Then do something for Jesus worthy of His love…’For Christ’s sake’ be this the tongue of fire that shall sit upon you: ‘for Christ’s sake’ be this the divine rapture, the heavenly afflatus to bear you aloft from earth, the divine spirit that shall make you bold as lions and swift as eagles in your Lord’s service. Love should give wings to the feet of service, and strength to the arms of labour.”

Once you have drunk from His cup of love you too will understand. You will know why the martyrs used to call the day of their death their wedding day. The love of God makes serving the Lord our pleasure. Never again will you feel like serving God is a sacrifice, it has become an honor and a pleasure for all of those smitten by His love.

INTERCESSIONS OF THE SPIRIT

October 23, 2014

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,

because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

ROMANS 8:27

Prayer is an interesting phenomenon. The fact that the Almighty God listens to the requests of one of His created beings is hard to wrap your head around. For Him to not only hear but respond is absolutely amazing. But here is the most interesting part for me, God Himself actually prays through the believer through the person of the Holy Spirit. In today’s verse He prays through us according to God’s will. Now that is really supernatural. Think about it, our prays actually become prophetic or God’s way to fulfill prophecy. The Lord knows the future as if it has already happened. He orchestrates the future through the prayers of His children. He directs your life and the lives of those you love and pray for by the prayers of the Holy Spirit. Here are some powerful thoughts about the intercession of the Spirit from Andrew Murray.

“We often do not know what we should pray for, and at times we do not know how to pray. Then our inability to pray impedes our prayer and handicaps the faith that is essential to the prayer’s success. But God’s Word gives us true encouragement that at times like these the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in accordance to the will of God.

Where and how does the Spirit make intercession for the saints? In the heart that does not know how to pray, He secretly and effectually prays what is according to the will of God. This, of course, implies that we trust Him to do His work in us and that we wait on God, even when we do not know what to pray. We must have immeasurable faith in the Holy Spirit, who has been given us to cry “Abba Father!” within us.”

These supernatural prayers flow from deep within us. Jesus said that the Spirit will flow out of our ‘innermost being’. Jesus is describing our spirit, the part of us that was awakened when we were born again. This is also the part of us that is filled to overflowing when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. Part of that overflow is praying these intercessions of the Spirit. What an amazing blessing, the Lord uses our prayers to bring about His plans and purposes. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to pray.

HEAVENLY FATHER

October 22, 2014

“Our Father in heaven …”

MATTHEW 6:9

I love the simplicity of the teachings of Jesus. ”Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened;” and this, “give and it shall be given to you”. These words are simple yet open us up to an incredible life that is deeper than the ocean. One of these profound simple teachings was the Lord’s instructions on how to pray. “Our Father”, he starts. This is the simplest and the deepest revelation of all. Most everyone understands the concept of father. In theory, everyone has a father. Maybe your idea of father is a little twisted from your daddy experiences, Christ reveals to us what the heavenly Father is like. “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” He declares. This Father is good and loving and kind. For those of us who have been born again you have received the Spirit of sonship, we have become sons of God. We can now pray and understand the simplest and deepest of all prayers, “Our Father Who art in heaven”. A. B. Simpson taught about the beauty and simplicity of this prayer. Check this out.

“Our Father. How simple, how beautiful, this invocation which Christ puts upon our lips! And yet how inconceivably rich in its meaning, in the fullness of the love and blessing it contains.

Just think of all the memories there have been on earth of wise and loving fathers. Just think of what this world owes to fathers. What a gift Christ bestowed on us when He gave us the right to call His Father “our Father.” My Father! We count it a great privilege that the Father comes so near to His earthly children, but when we pray, “Our heavenly Father,” the need arises within to enter into His holy presence in heaven, to breathe its atmosphere and become truly heavenly minded. Then the words “heavenly Father” take on new meaning, and our hearts come under an influence that abides all day long.”

Praying this prayer puts us in touch with with this heavenly reality, we are His and everything will be okay. He loves me, corrects me, forgives me, and He heals me. All I need or long for is found in this heavenly relationship. Say it now, “My Father’. There is no greater prayer. “Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. Let Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”


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