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.”

TOO DEEP FOR WORDS

October 21, 2014

Rom. 8:26 ¶ Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Praying in our heavenly language is a huge part of our personal life of intimacy with the Lord. Often times, the prayer language has been treated as unimportant or an insignificant optional add-on to our Christian experience. Actually, it is an essential part of our spiritual life, it is the doorway into the supernatural nature of our Christianity. The prayer language is actually the joining together of our human spirit with the Holy Spirit, He awakens and empowers our inner man. Without this aspect of our Christian faith we have limited revelation, trying to comprehend spiritual things with human reasoning. As Paul taught, when I pray in the Spirit it is not me who prays but the Lord who is praying in me, through me, and for me. Andrew Murray probably wasn’t one who spoke in tongues but he served as somewhat of a prophet living just before the Pentecostal outpouring of the early twentieth century. Here are some of his thoughts about the Spirit helping us pray.

“The children of God have not only the Son of God, the great High Priest, to intercede for them; they have not only the privilege to ask in faith what they desire and the promise that it shall be given them; they also have the Holy Spirit who intercedes for them in the depths of their being.

We are called to separate ourselves from the world and yield wholeheartedly to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He intercedes for us in a way that surpasses all our expectations. Therefore, we must surrender ourselves to silent expectation while we wait on the Lord and the Holy Spirit prays within us.”

I love the supernatural nature of the heavenly language. I can be in a state of discouragement or just in a time of spiritual apathy and begin to yield to the Holy Spirit praying in other tongues. When I press in to the Lord in this way He never fails to come through. This is what David was prophesying about when he spoke of turning mourning into dancing (Ps.30:11) and what Isaiah meant when he spoke of the refreshing and rest from the stammering tongue (Isa.28:11).So go ahead, yield to the Holy Spirit. Before you know it you will be enjoying the magnificent presence of the Lord.

IF PRISON WALLS COULD SPEAK

October 20, 2014

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Ps.91:2

As for you, the one who lives in the shelter of the sovereign One, and resides in the protective shadow of the mighty king—NET BIBLE

Who doesn’t love the Psalms? Where ever we find ourselves in our Christian walk you can bet David was there. Have you been attacked by your enemies? David was too. Committed some hideous sin, David can most certainly relate. Psalm 40 has been especially good to me. “He brought me up out of a horrible pit and put a new song in my mouth even praise unto my God”. In my mind I see David running time and time again from Saul. He spent many a dark moment in some cave-in fact most of David’s men (ya know the one that were outcasts) lived in caves.

Pastor Richard Wormbrand spent many years in prison in communist Russia. He wrote  “IF PRISON WALLS COULD SPEAK”. It basically was His sermons that he preached to himself to keep himself sane. Richard had to have gotten the idea from David. I would’t be surprised if David wrote upon the walls of all the caves he found himself in.  I bet he found himself in the same caves over the years. When he grew accustomed to the dark, he remembered his inscriptions of God’s deliverance. The secret place of God is learning to live in his bosom. God will extend his shadow over you.

I pray this quote ministers to you-“Into the secret place those only come who know the love of God in Christ Jesus, and those only dwell there to whom to live is Christ. To them the veil is rent, the mercy-seat is revealed, the covering cherubs are manifest, and the awful glory of the Most High is apparent: these, like Simeon, have the Holy Ghost upon them, and like Anna they depart not from the temple; they are the courtiers of the Great King, the valiant men who keep watch around the bed of Solomon, the virgin souls who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. Elect out of the elect, they have “attained unto the first three,” and shall walk with their Lord in white, for they are worthy. Sitting down in the august presence-chamber where shines the mystic light of the Sheckinah, they know what it is to be raised up together, and to be made to sit together with Christ in the heavenlies, and of them it is truly said that their conversation is in heaven.”  Matthew Henry

If you find yourself in a cave/prison today my friend, it just might be one you have visited before. When the dust settles, let Shaddai’s shadow begin to speak to you. You will find yourself in the shelter of the sovereign one.

MY INHERITANCE

October 19, 2014

Psa. 61:5  For You, O God, have heard my vows;

You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.

Have you ever inherited anything? Obviously, the value of an inheritance depends on the worth of the person that left the inheritance for you. Several years ago, Parris’s dad passed away leaving Parris and I a small inheritance. Her dad loved vacations, travel cruises,etc. We actually used this inheritance to purchase a time share for our personal vacations in honor of her dad, Tony Hanson. Every time we use our time share, we have fond memories of Tony and his love to travel.

In Christ, His sons and daughters have received a powerful inheritance. He is wealthy beyond comprehension and we have become heirs of His abundance. Not only have we inherited His possessions, we have inherited Him; He is our portion. Here are some thoughts from the Old Testament Word Book on our heritage.

“In civil matters the verb means to become an heir. In military matters it means to gain control over a certain area by conquering and expelling the current inhabitants of that area. In such a light the word came to take on the meaning of “dispossess,” “drive out,” “cast out,” and “seize.”

In Israel’s history the root takes on its double force, to inherit and to dispossess, in relationship to the covenant. God made a covenant with Israel that they would become his own special people. A major benefit on Israel’s side was the promise of an inheritance, namely a land where they could develop into a holy nation.”

This commentary points out two parts of our inheritance. First we become heirs of God, we have become His own special people. As the the nation of Israel was God’s chosen people, we have become His chosen people in Christ. Secondly, we have the power and authority to drive the enemies from our land. One of those great enemies is sin and compromise. Sin no longer has a right to rule in our world. We are now free. We live a different kind of life from the people all around us.  We are sons and daughters of God and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ. Every time we pray like Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, in heaven…”, we are reminded of our inheritance. We are sons and daughters of the Almighty, our inheritance in unspeakable.

UGLY TURNS BEAUTIFUL

October 18, 2014

Is. 60:15 ¶ Whereas you have been forsaken and hated….. I will make you a joy from age to age.

Some of the worst people in the Bible actually become some of the most powerful. Several names immediately come to my mind; Saul of Tarsus, Mary Magadalene, and of course the demon possessed man from Gadara. We all know Saul’s story, he was persecuting and executing Christians until that fateful day he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus. In a moment of time he became a different man. The grace of God not only accepted Paul, it made him into the greatest of all apostles. Mary’s story is also quite well know. Probably a woman of the night possessed by seven demons. God’s love delivered, forgave, and transformed Mary. She actually became the first witness of the resurrection. Also, the demoniac from Gadara. The nameless man was used to change his world. A great revival took place in Gadara shortly after his miracle. Several months after the folks from that region asked Jesus to leave, thousands joyfully received Him in response to the Gadarene’s testimony. Here are some thoughts from A.B. Simpson about the Lord transforming the worst of us.

“God loves to take the worst of lost men and make them the most magnificent memorials of His redeeming love and power. He loves to take the victims of Satan’s hate and the most fearful examples of his power to destroy and use them to illustrate and illuminate the possibilities of divine mercy and the creativity of the Holy Spirit.

He loves to take the things in our own lives that have been the worst, the hardest and the most hostile to God, and to transform them so that we shall be the opposites of our former selves. The sweetest spirits are made from the most stormy and self-willed; the mightiest faith is created out of the wilderness of doubts and fears; the divinest love is transformed out of stony hearts of hate and selfishness.

The grace of God is equal to the most uncongenial temperaments and to the most unfavorable circumstances. Its glory is to transform a curse into blessing and show to men and angels of ages yet to come that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20).”

So what kind of horrible person were you? This shameful past can be turned into a powerful weapon for the glory of God.

CHOSEN BY THE SPIRIT

October 17, 2014

1Pet. 1:1 ¶ Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, ¶ To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
1Pet. 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Peter used an interesting phrase in this verse, “chosen according to foreknowledge”. Does that mean more than God knew who was going to be saved? If that’s all it means, then what does chosen have to do with it? I think the foreknowledge is more than the Lord knowing information about us, way more. The Lord actually knew us in the since that He loved us before we even existed. He knew Jeremiah before he was in his mother’s womb, I guess He must have known me that way too. There are some interesting observations about being chosen in Barclay’s Commentary

“The Christian is chosen to be consecrated by the Spirit. Luther said, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him”. For the Christian the Holy Spirit is essential to every part of the Christian life and every step in it. It is the Holy Spirit who awakens within us the first faint longings for God and goodness. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sin and leads us to the Cross where that sin is forgiven. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to be freed from the sins which have us in their grip and to gain the virtues which are the fruit of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us assurance that our sins are forgiven and that Jesus Christ is Lord. The beginning, the middle and the end of the Christian life are the work of the Holy Spirit.”

There is something more about today’s verse that really puts this whole chosen thing in perspective for me. Peter says we are chosen by the work of the Spirit. We are chosen by His alluring us. As a young man I was interested in everything but the Lord. He used a strange series of events to get me thinking. One look in His direction and I was done. I was captured by His love, the Holy Spirit reeled me in and I found myself consumed with Jesus Christ.

INDESCRIBABLE

October 16, 2014

1 PET. 1:8 ¶ You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

We are looking for joy. We may not ever think of it in those terms, but that is what life really is. It is a long search for enjoyment in our lives. We have all wandered down so many roads and gazed into the proverbial rabbit holes in life in search of pleasure. That’s the way we are geared, our Maker created us for joy. He not only made us for joy, He gave us a huge appetite for it. The dilemma we all face is this, our hunger is for something not of this world. We were formed with eternity in our hearts, nothing in this world can satisfy that need for the taste of eternity.
The final destination for those who are truth seekers is the presence of God. It is in His presence that our search for fullness of joy finally ends. Here are some observations from the Tyndale Commentary about this glorified joy.

“The word translated unutterable occurs only here in the New Testament, and describes a joy so profound as to be beyond the power of words to express. (It thus reminds us of the value of singing and other kinds of music in worship, for music often provides a vehicle for expressing the fullness of joy in a Christian’s heart in a way that is much more effective than spoken words alone.)
This joy is also exalted. This word (doxazoœ) is the verb which corresponds to the noun ‘glory’ (doxa). These terms would quite naturally remind Peter’s readers of the frequent Old Testament mention of the glory of God, that bright shining radiance which surrounded the presence of God himself. The sense of this word exalted could be given more fully by paraphrasing, ‘joy that has been infused with heavenly glory and that still possesses the radiance of that glory’. It is thus joy that results from being in the presence of God himself, and joy that even now partakes of the character of heaven. It is the joy of heaven before heaven, experienced now in fellowship with the unseen Christ.”

We are not talking about ordinary, everyday joy. We are talking about glorified joy. Tasting it helps us know how great heaven will be. Go ahead, launch out into the depths of God. It is in His very presence that our search is ended.

MARTYRS’ WEDDING DAY

October 15, 2014

1Pet. 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

For the lost, death is the end; all of their hopes are in this life. It is not so with the Christian, our hopes are all in the world to come. All of our earthly, dreams, pleasures, and accomplishments will fade into a forgotten haze when we shut our eyes in death. In an instant of time, our eyes will open again in a place of unspeakable glory. As David declared, we will begin to enjoy pleasures evermore. John Trappe was a Scottish pastor in the 1600’s. He wrote a commentary of the Bible which is filled with wisdom and humor. Here are his thoughts about today’s verse.

“Unto a lively hope] Sure and solid, clearing the conscience, and cheering the spirit. If it were not for hope, the heart would break; as they do whose lives and hopes end together. True hope lives when the man dies. It hath for its motto. The righteous hath hope in his death, as St Stephen had; who went with good cheer to take his end. And many of the holy martyrs went as willingly to die as ever they did to dine; they called it their wedding day. They knew it was but winking only, and they should be in heaven immediately; hence their invincible courage at the hour of death. The ungodly are not so; their hopes are dying hopes, they are no better than as the giving up of the ghost.”

I love this quote from Trappe. He said the martyrs looked at the day of their execution as their wedding day. We all know what that means, the joyful anticipation deepens as the wedding day draws near. For the martyr, his eyes are not on the momentary suffering, but on the eternity that follows. Heaven had become so real and Christ so precious that there was an actual joyful anticipation as the day of their death drew near. They said their death was just a “winking”. Their eyes would wink and they would then see Jesus. Just think about, we are all just one blink of the eye to our heavenly reward. That truth can change everything about the way we live.  MARANATHA !!!


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