FIXATED

April 24, 2014

Luke 5:17 ¶ On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.

There are always Pharisees at church. What do I mean by Pharisees, those that are there to observe and critique but not to change. They observe the worship, how good it is or how anointed it is, or maybe how loud it is. Then they evaluate the pastor; his preaching, his family, his life and lifestyle. From there they observe the younger Christians and all of their carnal traits and maybe move on to the older crowd and how they are stuck in traditions. Of course they judge the manifestations of God’s presence, Pharisees have little tolerance for anything supernatural. Yep, the Pharisees are always around, here is something Matthew Henry said about that 300 years ago.

“There were Pharisees, and doctors of the law, sitting by; not sitting at his feet, to learn of him; and why might not the word of Christ reach their hearts? But, by what follows, it appears that they were not healed, but caviled at Christ, which compels us to refer this to others, not to them; for they sat by as persons unconcerned, as if the word of Christ were nothing to them. They sat by as spectators, censors, and spies, to pick up something on which to ground a reproach or accusation. How many are there in the midst of our assemblies, where the gospel is preached, that do not sit under the word, but sit by! It is to them as a tale that is told them, not as a message that is sent them; they are willing that we should preach before them, not that we should preach to them. Observe the duties taught and recommended to us by the history of the paralytic. In applying to Christ, we must be very pressing and urgent; that is an evidence of faith, and is very pleasing to Christ, and prevailing with him. Give us, Lord, the same kind of faith with respect to thy ability and willingness to heal our souls. Give us to desire the pardon of sin more than any earthly blessing, or life itself. Enable us to believe thy power to forgive sins; then will our souls cheerfully arise and go where thou please.”

How can I keep from morphing into a Pharisee? It’s really quite simple. The anointing of the Spirit is a sure cure for phariseeism. The Spirit makes us totally aware of our need for God and our need to change. That really leaves us no time to try sort out everyone else’s issues. In today’s verse, the power of The Lord was present, only the spiritually hungry were even aware of His presence. The power of The Lord is often present in our services. I guess the question we have to answer is this; am I aware of His presence or fixated with fixing others?

SPECIAL ONES

April 23, 2014

A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me.
Song of Solomon 1:13

This verse in Solomon’s song speaks to us about suffering and it’s connection to intimacy with God. Christ came to bring His purchased sons and daughters into a relationship that He had enjoyed with His Father from eternity. In John’s account of the Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spoke of an eternal intimacy that He had enjoyed with His Father. He was asking the Father to bring us into that same life of intimacy. In the same prayer Jesus committed Himself to fulfill the will of God. “Let this cup (of suffering) pass from Me if it is possible, nevertheless not My will but Your will”. Here the connection is made between suffering and this life of close fellowship with God, that is what is meant by Solomon’s bundle of myrrh. Actually, Jesus is talking about the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That is the source of this intimacy, the anointing, Solomon’s bundle of myrrh.

“He is a bundle of myrrh for preservation-not loose myrrh to be dropped on the floor or trodden on, but myrrh tied up, myrrh to be stored in a casket. We must value him as our best treasure; we must prize his words and his ordinances; and we must keep our thoughts of him and knowledge of him as under lock and key, lest the devil should steal anything from us. Moreover, Jesus is a bundle of myrrh for speciality. The emblem suggests the idea of distinguishing, discriminating grace. From before the foundation of the world, he was set apart for his people; and he gives forth his perfume only to those who understand how to enter into communion with him, to have close dealings with him. Oh! blessed people whom the Lord hath admitted into his secrets, and for whom he sets himself apart. Oh! choice and happy who are thus made to say, A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me.”

This bundle of myrrh is our greatest treasure in this life. Greater than career accomplishments, better than possessions, even more special that our friends and even our families. As Edwards used to say, these are but shadows, God is the substance.
This bundle of myrrh is not for everyone, not everyone even wants it. It is reserved for His special ones, those He has known from before the foundations of this creation. He has set you apart for a purpose, to know and enjoy Him. This myrrh is the secret passage. It is the fragrance that flows from the cross, into the empty tomb, it blows through the upper room, and it finally finds its resting place seated in heavenly places with Christ on His throne.
For most, Christ and Christianity are either a formula or a routine. For those He has set apart, it is joy unspeakable and full of Glory.

BUNDLE OF MYRRH

April 22, 2014

A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me.
Song of Solomon 1:13

Song of Solomon is filled with countless numbers of pictures of the beauty and greatness of our Lord. In this verse Solomon describes The Lord as a bundle of myrrh. Myrrh speaks of the suffering and the fragrance of Christ. His suffering in my place becomes an unmistakeable and irreplaceable fragrance. It is a constant source of life and motivation in the midst of the unpredictable nature of our daily lives. The life of Christ that was released toward me as a result of His suffering is beyond comprehension. It is a bundle and more than a bundle. It is a bundle of bundles to my soul. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this bundle of myrrh.

“Myrrh may well be chosen as the type of Jesus on account of its preciousness, its perfume, its pleasantness, its healing, preserving, disinfecting qualities, and its connection with sacrifice. But why is he compared to a bundle of myrrh? First, for plenty. He is not a drop of it, he is a casket full. He is not a sprig or flower of it, but a whole bundle. There is enough in Christ for all my necessities; let me not be slow to avail myself of him. Our well-beloved is compared to a bundle again, for variety: for there is in Christ not only the one thing needful, but in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,everything needful is in him. Take Jesus in his different characters, and you will see a marvelous variety-Prophet, Priest, King, Husband, Friend, Shepherd. Consider him in his life, death, resurrection, ascension, second advent; view him in his virtue, gentleness, courage, self-denial, love, faithfulness, truth, righteousness-everywhere he is a bundle of preciousness.”

Spurgeon used several graphic words to describe this bundle of myrrh. He said it was precious. The death of Jesus and the benefits that flow to us are precious. It has value that has no number because this purchased life is invaluable. He also describes this myrrh as perfume. There is an atmosphere or smell about all those who have tasted this preciousness. This fragrance cannot be duplicated, it is the perfume of heaven. Spurgeon also spoke of the healing qualities of this healing myrrh. Every wound on the body of our Lord Jesus cries out healing to His people. This bundle of myrrh is a healing bundle, there is healing there for you and for me. He also spoke of the preserving nature of this spiritual myrrh. Christ keeps us for Himself. No matter what we face in life, nothing or no one can pluck us from His hand. Spurgeon also commented about the disinfecting qualities of this heavenly myrrh. We can easily become infected with the pollution in this life, this love relationship with Christ, this heavenly bundle disinfects us from the filth of this world. Yes Jesus is precious, He is the Lover of my soul, and yes He is a bundle of myrrh to me.

WHEN ANGELS AREN’T ENOUGH

April 21, 2014

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher. 12, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” John 20:11

This story has always captivated me. Mary staring at a empty tomb is an interesting picture of the story in Song of Solomon when “her beloved is gone” after He puts His hand on the door dripping with myrrh. Sometimes we can become so careless about maintaining our relationship with The Lord. “I have put off my robe and cannot put it on again”—said the shulamite woman to her lover. In the gospel of Mark, He reminds us who this Mary was- “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” I am sure once she saw the grave empty, the whole earth seemed empty to her. The tomb just stared at her back, mocking her. Once Peter and John left the tomb, she stayed behind taking it all in. The shock of the past few days all flashing through her memory. The rigid form, the unanswering lips and blank eyes, the lifeless body all speak of death. Why did she leave the tomb in the first place? I love the fact she lingered in that empty place, taking in the sepulcher with the linen cloth laying on the stone slab, tears flowing from her broken heart. She is so self absorbed that the vision of angels doesn’t comfort her, for she “has no room for wonder for it’s another voice she is looking for.” (Interpreter’s) She had but the thought, “they have taken away my Lord” and thinking everyone knows why she is there weeping she sees the gardner and says, “Sir, if thou has borne Him hence….”
What is interesting about this moment, is that Jesus could have gone anywhere to visit with the highest and most important—But “to mourn His presence is to desire and to invite His presence, and to invite His presence is to secure it.” (Interpreters)I believe her sense of need is what eventually appealed to Him -if you call He will answer. Your beloved will come to your dead tomb.
Interpreters Commentary goes onto say, “To seek Christ is to feel as Mary felt, to see with practical constraining clearness as she saw, that he is the most precious of all possessions and that to be like him is the greatest of all attainments, it is to see his character with clearness and to be persuaded that, if the world gives us opportunity of becoming like him and actually makes us like him, it has done for us all that is vital and permanently important.”

GLIMPSES OF THE RISEN ONE

April 20, 2014

John 20:19 ¶ Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

The resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. Without Christ being raised from the dead, he would have been quickly forgotten. The testimony of the eye witnesses of His resurrection have changed our world permanently. These men and women obviously had an experience with Christ after His death and burial. This experience is their testimony, the testimony of the risen Lord.
Mary Magdalene had been one of Jesus’ closest followers. She had been delivered from a life of darkness and oppression and had loved Christ and His message deeply. His death had been the greatest catastrophe in her life, she was fearful of returning to those dark years before Christ. As she wept outside the tomb that first Easter morning all her dreams had been crushed, she was sinking in to that cavern of despondency once again. Suddenly Jesus was there with her in the garden. He wasn’t dead at all, He was alive. He had conquered death itself. Mary found herself at her familiar place, weeping at His feet, her tears of sorrow had given way to tears of joy.
Peter also was struggling that Easter morning. Some of the women said they had seen Him, he had seen the empty tomb for himself, but for Peter, even if He was alive it could never be the same. After all, Peter had denied Him, not once but three times. How could he look into the face of The Lord? But then came the words from one of the women who saw the angels. “Go tell the disciples and Peter”. The angel specifically said “Peter”. “Maybe there was still hope”, Peter thought to himself. And then it happened, The Lord actually met with Peter (1 COR. 15:5). He had been forgiven. Christ had died for him. This resurrected Savior had forgiven Peter. Peter would never be afraid again, he was a witness of the resurrection.
That evening The Lord appeared to the twelve disciples. They were all shocked, they had wanted to believe, but now they saw Him for themselves. He reminded them of their call to the nations and then it happened, He breathed on them. They received the Holy Spirit into their lives. He had been with them, now He was inside of them. This is why He had come. He had come to bring us to God. His death and resurrection had made that possible.
Maybe you feel like those disciples. You want to believe its all true but it is more like a belief than a reality. For the disciples, that all changed when He walked into the room and breathed on them. Today, Jesus is still walking into rooms. He does this through the person of the Holy Spirit. Be still, wait on The Lord, I think He just stepped into your room.

THIEVES

April 19, 2014

Mark 15:25-28

Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the inscription of His accusation was written above:
THE KING OF THE JEWS.
With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”*

Common thieves, Jesus was executed among common thieves. Incredibly The Lord was in the midst of His people and they didn’t recognize Him. He was misunderstood, rejected, beaten and nailed onto a Roman cross just like a common criminal. That’s when the mocking intensified. He was mocked by the priests, cursed by the Roman soldiers, and finally even the others being crucified began to rail upon Him, at least they did until one recognized Him. We are not told much about this “thief on the cross” but I have thought of him often. I can’t wait to hear his story. I can imagine he suddenly realized who Jesus was when they hammered the sign, King of the Jews, above His head. Suddenly he remembered Him. “This is that preacher who came to my village a few weeks ago. This is the One who healed that old blind man and that deaf boy. He even forgave the prostitute. Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for me”. Then the thief began to cry out “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. Then it happened, the thief heard Jesus talking directly to him. “Today, son, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Wow! These were the greatest words this thief had ever heard. Here is something Matthew Henry said about this incident.

“To complete the reproach, the thieves also that were crucified with him were not only not reviled as he was, as if they had been saints compared with him, but, though fellow-sufferers with him, joined in with his prosecutors, and cast the same in his teeth; that is, one of them did, who said, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us. One would think that of all people this thief had least cause, and should have had least mind, to banter Christ. Partners in suffering, though for different causes, usually commiserate (sympathize with) one another; and few, whatever they have done before, will breathe their last in revilings. But, it seems, the greatest mortifications of the body, and the most humbling rebukes of Providence, will not of themselves mortify the corruptions of the soul, nor suppress the wickedness of the wicked, without the grace of God.”

Did you catch that last statement? Without the grace of God. That’s it. That thief was getting justice as he was being crucified but then grace stepped in. Grace opened the heart of the thief, grace has opened our hearts and triumphed over justice. Each one of us are actually the thief on the cross. Just as this man recognized his perilous condition we too recognize our perilous condition when grace steps in. Until that moment we are like all of the rest, accusers and mockers. When grace stepped in, paradise became our destination.

SOWING IN TEARS

April 18, 2014

Psa. 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

Everyone likes harvest time. Celebration, abundance; what’s not to like? It’s the sowing thing that we tend to balk at. Early mornings, late nights and only promises and hope of the harvest to come. The psalmist paints a beautiful picture of the Christian life, sowing in tears. Often times we sow in prayer for years before the harvest appears. Our circumstances cry out, “it will never happen, The Lord will not answer your prayer”. The enemy whispers ” He answers others but He has passed you by”. Even our friends words weigh on us “I don’t know how you keep going on”, or even better, “come on, don’t be so religious, come hang out with us”. But you have heard the promise of The Lord, in your heart you know sorrow will give way to the joy of harvest, it is only a matter of time. Here are some thoughts on this passage from Spurgeon’s Treasury of David.

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Hence, present distress must not be viewed as if it would last for ever; it is not the end, by any means, but only a means to the end. Sorrow is our sowing, rejoicing shall be our reaping. If there were no sowing in tears there would be no reaping in joy. If we were never captives we could never lead our captivity captive. Our mouth had never been filled with holy laughter if it had not been first filled with the bitterness of grief. We must sow: we may have to sow in the wet weather of sorrow; but we shall reap, and reap in the bright summer season of joy. Let us keep to the work of this present sowing time, and find strength in the promise which is here so positively given us. Here is one of the Lord’s shalls and wills; it is freely given both to workers, waiters, and weepers, and they may rest assured that it will not fail: “in due season they shall reap.”

Don’t you get it, your season of sorrow will only make the harvest more sweet. God is never mocked, every seed has no choice but to respond in God’s season of harvest.
One of the most unusual seasons of harvest came for us during the aftermath of Katrina. In the midst of incredible sorrow from all of the loss and the unceasing labor of sowing during the recovery, we saw the most amazing harvest, it was beyond imagination. We saw thousands of people helped physically, thousands of people encouraged spiritually as well as receiving provision. We started two new churches and a rehabilitation center called Mary’s Song. It would have been easy to miss the harvest, we had great excuses to stop sowing in tears. Maybe you have been sowing for awhile, don’t give up. The depth of sorrow and the length of the seed time will give way to shouts of joy in harvest.

THERE IS A FOUNTAIN

April 17, 2014

Eph. 1:7 ¶ In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

I love to look at the variety of movies that portray the suffering and death of Jesus. I know its hard to look at, but once you have been washed in His blood, it becomes impossible not to look at. I guess I am partial to these crucifixion scenes portrayed in movies because of the role one of them played in my life. My wife Parris and I got saved after watching the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was the crucifixion scene that got me. In that rendition, Christ was surrounded by modern day long haired guys wearing some sort of hard hat. Following that scene was music with famous artists’ renditions of the death of Christ. That’s when it hit me. The fountain of my tears began to flow, I was experiencing the power of forgiveness through His blood for the first time. I was being made brand new.
Years later the movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’ was released. Again, the suffering of Christ in that movie effected me deeply. The visual image of Christ suffering in my place is more than I can bare, but I still have to look. William Cowper had tasted of the power of the blood of Jesus in his own life in England in the 1700′s. From His encounter with forgiveness of sins he wrote this timeless song, There is a Fountain, that is still being sung in churches today. Check out his song, look closely, this song may actually be yours.

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in His day;
And there have I, though vile as he,
Washed all my sins away.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its pow’r,
Till all the ransomed church of God
Are safe, to sin no more.
E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
When this poor, lisping, stamm’ring tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.

Every year as we celebrate Easter our thoughts return to the suffering, death, and the glorification of Jesus. Have you tasted the power of redemption? Are you enjoying the benefits purchased for us by His precious blood? William Cowper was haunted by bouts with depression throughout his life. The anchor of his soul that kept him through those days was the salvation he experienced when he was plunged beneath the flood flowing from Immanuel’s veins. The Lord helped Cowper through the strength, encouragement, and wisdom of his pastor John Newton. Newton also knew the power of forgiveness, he had been delivered and forgiven for his evolvement in the slave trade. He also wrote a song from his experience that you may know. His song was called Amazing Grace.

REAPING IN JOY

April 16, 2014

Psa. 126:6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

This passage has special meaning for those who have become involved in the work of The Lord. Obviously, The Lord is talking about more than farms and corn and tomatoes in this verse. He is talking about more than field workers, farm hands, and farm owners. He is talking about the essence of our Christian walk. The Lord is speaking about the law of love, living our lives to see the harvest of souls in the kingdom of God. Have you seen the harvest? Has your heart been awakened to the teeming thousands of lost souls all around us? When that happens you will engage in the rhythm of this Psalm, sowing in tears and reaping in joy. Here are some words from Spurgeon on this wonderful passage.

“He leaves his couch to go forth into the frosty air and tread the heavy soil; and as he goes he weeps because of past failures, or because the ground is so sterile, or the weather so unseasonable, or his corn so scarce, and his enemies so plentiful and so eager to rob him of his reward. He drops a seed and a tear, a seed and a tear, and so goes on his way. In his basket he has seed which is precious to him, for he has little of it, and it is his hope for the next year. Each grain leaves his hand with anxious prayer that it may not be lost: he thinks little of himself, but much of his seed, and he eagerly asks, “Will it prosper? shall I receive a reward for my labour?” Yes, good husbandman, doubtless you will gather sheaves from your sowing. Because the Lord has written doubtless, take heed that you do not doubt. You will return to this field — not to sow, but to reap; not to weep, but to rejoice; and after awhile you will go home again with nimbler step than today, though with a heavier load, for you shall have sheaves to bear with you. Your handful shall be so greatly multiplied that many sheaves shall spring from it; and you shall have the pleasure of reaping them and bringing them home to the place from which you went out weeping.”

Part of our salvation experience is becoming aware of the hurting people all around us. Jesus said “Look, the fields are white unto harvest”. Have you seen it yet, have you discovered the real purpose of your salvation? When that moment comes, you enter into the precious life of sowing in tears and reaping in joy. Until that moment of awakening, we are stuck looking for joy in other things. It’s the old forest for the trees thing. When the moment of awakening comes, sowing and reaping becomes our bread and butter. Yep, weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning.

NO LONGER ALONE

April 15, 2014

Matt. 9:22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

Have you ever felt all alone. When you go through unusually difficult times loneliness only amplifies the situation. Your problems are mounting, solutions just out of your grasp, and there is no one there to help or even offer words of comfort. It is a terrible place to be. There is a nameless woman in the Bible (tradition calls her Veronica) that is facing extreme loneliness and despair. She had a female problem that left her ceremonially unclean. She couldn’t be with anyone, not even a touch, at the risk of leaving them unclean. She had been all alone for twelve years. She hardly remembered what it was like to laugh and spend time with her friends; no, she was all alone.
One day she heard about Jesus, she heard how others had been healed of incurable ailments. She dared to hope there was a chance her misery would come to an end. She still had a huge problem to overcome; the crowds. She couldn’t touch anyone and Jesus was surrounded by crowds. She decided to sneak through the crowd undetected, maybe she could steal her miracle. Once she made her way to Jesus, she reached out and touched the edge of His robe. Healing power went through her body, her miracle had begun. In the next moment an even greater miracle took place. Jesus turned to look for her in the crowd. He had perceived the touch of faith, she found herself looking into the eyes of The Lord. Her loneliness was gone. Not only had she received her healing, she was brought into life. She could never be lonely again. Here is something Barclay said about this beautiful story.

“It was the tassel on the robe of Jesus that this woman touched. When she touched it, it was as if time stood still. It was as if we were looking at a motion picture and suddenly the picture stopped, and left us looking at one scene. The extraordinary, and movingly beautiful thing, about this scene is that all at once amidst that crowd Jesus halted; and for the moment it seemed that for him no one but that woman and nothing but her need existed. She was not simply a poor woman lost in the crowd; she was someone to whom Jesus gave the whole of Himself.
For Jesus no one is lost in the crowd, because Jesus is like God. W. B. Yeats once wrote in one of his moments of mystical beauty: “The love of God is infinite for every human soul, because every human soul is unique….”

So you are not lost in the crowd, smothered by your “issues”, Jesus has is eye on you and is coming your way. Not only is He a worker of miracles, He is the Restorer of Life.


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