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FIRE ALL AROUND

July 27, 2014

Zech. 2:5 And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”

You want to hear another one of my reforestation stories? Well this one might just take the cake. It happened to be the night after our last day on that job, we had worked for twelve hours in the mountains and were eating dinner around the camp fire when the rangers came and drafted us into a forest fire fighting crew. We spent the next twelve hours fighting a forest fire. There were times that night where we were surrounded by fire. That event always reminded of today’s verse. We are surrounded by the fire of God. There is nothing that can penetrate God’s fire, we are literally surrounded and consumed by His love. Check out Matthew Henry’s thoughts on this verse.

“He is a wall of fire, not on one side only, but round about on every side. It shall be great, for God himself will be the glory in the midst of it. His temple, his altar, shall be set up and attended there, and his institutions observed, and there then shall the tokens of his special presence and favour be, which will be the glory in the midst of them, will make them truly admirable in the eyes of all about them. God will have honour from them, and put honour upon them. Note, Those that have God for their God have him for their glory; those that have him in the midst of them have glory in the midst of them, and thence the church is said to be all glorious within. And those persons and places that have God to be the glory in the midst of them have him for a wall of fire round about them, for upon all that glory there is, and shall be, a defence, Isa. iv. 5.”

Even though we were extremely tired that night (I remember falling asleep standing up leaning on my shovel), I don’t remember any fear. In the midst of that fiery mountain forest we knew we were protected by another fire, we always are. Regardless of what kind of battle you are facing there is a peace in our soul as we trust in our God. After all, our God is a consuming fire.

WALL OF FIRE

July 26, 2014

Zech. 2:5 For I says the LORD, “will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.” 

The Lord calls Himself a wall of fire around His people. He was telling His people in the strongest language that He would protect them totally and permanently. This promise was not only for the earthly city of Jerusalem, it was specially a promise for His New Jerusalem, His church. This promise is for us today. 

This word came true for me during one of our tree planting trips back in the 1970’s. I had been working all day, planting trees in the remote coastal mountains of Oregon when I overheard on the crew chief’s radio that a crew truck had gone off of the road. That was all the information we got and I was worried about the worst. Going off the road could be catastrophic, these were winding mountain roads with enormous drop-offs to the river below.  Parris had gone down to town grocery shopping for our team that day, I had a feeling it was her truck that went over the side. Actually, it turned out to be her truck. To make a long story short, the tire tracks of her vehicle went off of the road into space. The truck ridiculously balanced on a sapling, tottering safely for everyone to climb out of the car. It seems like the angelic wall of fire was working. Here are some observations by Henry on this passage. 

“It shall be safe, for God himself will be a wall of fire round about it. Jerusalem had no walls about it at this time, but lay naked and exposed; formerly, when it had walls, the enemies not only broke through them, but broke them down; but now God will be unto her a wall of fire. Some think it alludes to shepherds that made fires about their flocks, or travelers that made fires about their tents in desert places, to frighten wild beasts from them. God will not only make a hedge about them as he did about Job, not only make walls and bulwarks about them,  but he will be a wall of fire round them, which cannot be broken through, nor scaled, nor undermined, nor the foundations of it sapped, nor can it be attempted, or approached, without danger to the assailants. God will not only make a wall of fire about her, but he will himself be such a wall; for our God is a consuming fire to his and his church’s enemies. He is a wall of fire, not on one side only, but round about on every side.”

AUGUSTINE’S CONVERSION

July 25, 2014

Rom. 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. 

What a powerful thought from Paul; put on Christ like you would put on a new set of clothes. From the day of your conversion until you stand before The Lord, we must put on Christ everyday. Like a fresh garment of clothes, we must put on Christ. The word of God is the vehicle the Holy Spirit uses in putting on Christ in our daily lives. We may not be “feeling” His presence but His word is strong and always new. It is alive and active and brings us into contact with the Living God everyday. Here is the historic conversion of Augustine as recorded in Barclay’s commentary on Romans. Enjoy!

“The last verses of this passage must be forever famous, for it was through them Augustine found conversion. He tells the story in his Confessions. He was walking in the garden. His heart was in distress, because of his failure to live the good life. He kept exclaiming miserably ‘How long? Tomorrow and tomorrow – why not now? Why not this hour an end to my depravity?’ Suddenly he heard a voice saying, ‘ Take and read; take and read.’ It sounded like a child’s voice; and he racked his mind trying to remember any child’s game in which these words occurred, but could think of none. He hurried back to the seat where his friend Alypius was sitting, for he had left there a volume of Paul’s writings. ‘I snatched it up and read silently the first passage my eyes fell upon: ‘Let us not walk in revelry or drunkenness, in immorality and in shamelessness, in contention and in strife. But put on The Lord Jesus Christ, as a man puts on a garment, and stop living a life in which in which your first thought is to gratify the desires of the Christless human nature’. I neither wished nor needed to read further. With the end of that sentence, as though the light of assurance had poured within my heart, all the shades of doubt were scattered. I put my finger in the page and closed the book: I turned to Alypius with a calm countenance and told him.’ Out of his word God had spoken to Augustine. It was Coleridge who said that he believed the Bible to be inspired because, as he puts it, ‘ It finds me.’ God’s word can always find the human heart.” 

The Lord is always speaking from His written word. Go ahead, give it a try. Open up your Bible and listen for His voice. You can put on this new suit of clothes that will prepare you for your day.

ANOTHER HEALING REVIVAL?

July 24, 2014

Acts 5:15-16 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

I used to love listening to Kathryn Kuhlman when she was alive. There was something about her voice, or should I say, something in her voice. It seemed like anything could happen when Miss Kuhlman began to talk about miracles; and they often did. Her meetings were reminiscent of the scene in Acts 5 in the streets of Jerusalem where faith was in the air and scores of people were being healed. I have always longed to see another wave of healing come across the land. Now I love what God has done and is doing in our midst. We have seen numerous miracles in our church over the years. We have seen heart patients given new hearts and cancer patients healed. We have seen hepatitis leave people’s bodies and deaf people healed; there have been numerous healings in the 35 years but we know there is more, there is way more. Here are some comments from the Fire Bible on today’s scripture.

“The leaders among God’s people were so completely filled and overflowing with God’s presence through the Holy Spirit that God’s miraculous power was with them wherever they went. Even indirect contact with them brought miracles from God. Of course, these material objects had no magical or supernatural qualities in themselves; but even the slightest item or shadow represented a point of contact and, mixed with faith, brought God’s presence in supernatural ways. These actions were evidence that Jesus’ disciples were continuing to do just as their Lord had done: they healed people and freed those tormented with evil spirits. This was a key sign and evidence that God’s kingdom had come and was active among the people with great power. It is always pleasing to God for us to pray that through the Holy Spirit we might do good and heal those troubled and oppressed by sickness and Satan.”

Miss Kuhlman was raised up by God at the end of the great healing revival that began in the 1940′s. She was used to help lead us into the charismatic renewal of the 1960′s and 1970′s. I think it is about to happen again. Our world needs that kind of power and demonstration. I think the greatest off all revivals, characterized by healing signs and wonders, is about to shock our world again.

PUT ON CHRIST

July 23, 2014

Rom. 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

What a beautiful description of the Christian life. It’s not me being a better me, its putting off my old life and putting on Christ. Its not me at all, this new life is all of Christ. Often times, sermons in our hip, twenty first century world, take on the persona of self improvement. Our self doesn’t need improvement, it needs annihilation!!! Paul tells us to put off the old man and to put on Christ. This is actually what happens when we begin to draw near to Him, abide in Him, and stay full of the Holy Spirit. This is a powerful description of this passage by John Gill.

“As a man puts on his clothes when he rises in the morning: the righteousness of Christ is compared to a garment, it is the best robe, it is fine linen, clean and white, and change of raiment; which being put on by the Father’s gracious act of imputation, covers the sins and deformities of his people, defends them from divine justice, secures them from wrath to come, and renders them beautiful and acceptable in his sight: which righteousness being revealed from faith to faith, is received by faith, and made use of as a proper dress to appear in before God; and may be daily said to be put on by the believer, as often as he makes use of it, and pleads it with God as his justifying righteousness, which should be continually: moreover, to put on Christ, and which indeed seems to be the true sense of the phrase here, is not only to exercise faith on him as the Lord our righteousness, and to make a profession of his name, but to imitate him in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; to walk as he walked, and as we have him for an example, in love, meekness, patience, humility, and holiness:”

People are often looking for something they can “do” to make things better. Well, here it is. You can put on Christ. How do we do this? By pressing in to God. Pressing in? What is that? Exerting our energy and passion in the pursuit of God in His word, in worship, and in prayer. If you are just starting your day, even better. Put on your best set of clothes this morning. PUT ON CHRIST !!!

TWICE ANSWERED PRAYER

July 22, 2014

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
PSALM 145:18

People pray for all sorts of reasons. The businessman calls out to God in the time of financial crisis. The person with a terminal disease cries out for healing. The forsaken spouse calls out for restoration. As they say, there are no atheists in a foxhole. Here is the incredible beauty and grace of God on display; not only does He answer these cries of desperation, the supplicant often receives more than they bargained for. God Himself shows up in response to these cries for help. Could it be that that was the point all along? The Lord knows what we really need; Him. Could it be that that is why we find ourselves in these jams? The Lord wanted us to recognize our need for Him, we call out for help, and The Lord comes Himself to initiate fellowship with us. What an amazing God! Murray talks about our greatest need in prayer, to abide with Him. Check out his thoughts on walking with God.

“You long to continually experience the nearness of God. Here is the secret: Pray. Pray without ceasing. Then you will have the assurance that the Lord is near to those who call upon Him. Prayer has the wonderful power of drawing us nearer to God and keeping us in His presence. God is everywhere and He is ready and able to grant us unbroken fellowship with Him.
What does it mean to pray without ceasing? The answer is clear. Realize first that God is near you, within you, and then you will feel how natural it is to talk to Him each moment about your needs and desires. It is this kind of prayer of which Paul says, “Night and day we pray most earnestly” (1 Thessalonians 3:10). The principle of complete dependence on the unseen God, and the holy habit of claiming His presence with us each moment of the day, is the secret to a life of true godliness.”

What a shocking turnaround. We came to Him about our troubles, He came in response to our prayers and suddenly our troubles weren’t what we thought. His nearness and His kindness cause all the troubles to fade into a distant memory. If you are hurting today get ready for a double blessing. Call out to The Lord and He will hear your prayer, He will set things in motion to answer your prayer and He will begin a new intimacy with you as a result of your prayer.

THE DAWNING OF A NEW DAY

July 21, 2014

MERRY MONDAY- BY PARRIS BAILEY

“O what a blessed day that will be when I shall stand on the shore and look back on the raging seas I have safely passed; when I shall review my pains and sorrows, my fears and tears, and possess the glory which was the end of all!”
Wow! There is in a Christian a desire to depart and be with Christ or at least there should be. To look into His beautiful face once and for all. The earth in all its beauty and the animals with all their particular ways and colors speak of a place of beauty and harmony. Only an amazing God could have created all of this. Yes, to depart and be with Christ is so much better than anything we can ask or think. I pray we can redeem the small measure of time that we each have been given and use it for His glory.
Jonathan Edwards never did stop speaking of heaven, lets listen to what he has to say. “And in heaven, the spirits of just men made perfect do see him as he is. They behold his glory. They see the glory of his divine nature, consisting in all the glory of the Godhead, the beauty of all his perfections; his great majesty, almighty power, his infinite wisdom, holiness, and grace, and they see the beauty of his glorified human nature, and the glory which the Father hath given him, as God-man and Mediator. For this end, Christ desired that his saints might “be with him, that they might behold his glory,” John xvii. 24. And when the souls of the saints leave their bodies, to go to be with Christ, they behold the marvelous glory of that great work of his, the work of redemption, and of the glorious way of salvation by him; desire to look into. They have a most clear view of the unfathomable depths of the manifold wisdom and knowledge of God; and the most bright displays of the infinite purity and holiness of God, that do appear in that way and work; and see in a much clearer manner than the saints do here, what is the breadth and length, and depth and height of the grace and love of Christ, appearing in his redemption. And as they see the unspeakable riches and glory of the attribute of God’s grace, so they most clearly behold and understand Christ’s eternal and unmeasurable dying love to them in particular. And in short, they see every thing in Christ that tends to kindle and inflame love, and every thing that tends to gratify love, and every thing that tends to satisfy them: and that in the most clear and glorious manner, without any darkness or delusion, without any impediment or interruption.”
I pray this beautiful Monday, you too can step out of the traffic jam of life, take a good drink of redemption and see something more than just this earth!

BURNING ONES

July 20, 2014

Is. 6:1-2 ¶ In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

There are some very strange and unusual creatures in heaven. Isaiah described creatures that he saw in heaven as seraphs. They had six wings; two each covering face and feet, two others for flying. They were observed as proclaiming the glory of God to one another. The Fire Bible describes these seraphs as attendants of God. Here is that description.

“Seraphs are angelic beings with the awe-inspiring privilege of directly attending God. Seraphs could possibly be identified with heavenly creatures described elsewhere in Scripture (Rev 4:6–9). Their title (literally, “burning ones”) perhaps suggests their purity, since they are the ones who serve God around his throne and inspire those in God’s presence to worship him (4:10). They so directly reflect God’s glory that they seem to be on fire.”

They are called the burning ones. They live in the atmosphere of the Consuming Fire and reflect His glory. Isaiah was convicted of his apathy in their presence. Like the seraphs, we can be burning for God. Calvin talks about their brightness and how we may learn to adore His brilliance.

“And the seraphim stood upon it. Having declared that God appeared to him full of majesty and of glory, he adds, that God was attended by angels, whom the Prophet calls seraphim on account of their fervor. Though the etymology of this word is well known, yet various reasons are adduced. Some think that they are called seraphim because they burn with the love of God; others, because they are swift like fire; others, because they are bright. However that may be, this description holds out to us, as in sunbeams, the brightness of God’s infinite majesty, that we may learn by it to behold and adore his wonderful and overwhelming glory.”

Like Isaiah, when we find ourselves in the glory of God we see our inadequacy and apathy. As we yield to his visitation, like the seraphs, we begin to be lit up. Maybe your fire has grown dim, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Come to the house of The Lord, maybe just maybe, Isaiah’s God will visit you and you will become one of His burning ones.

HEAVEN

July 19, 2014

Rev. 1:14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;

Do you ever think about heaven? No, really, do you ever give serious thought about what it will be like? We probably should if we intend to spend eternity there with The Lord. We have two powerful sources to help give us a real, solid understanding of what the place called heaven is like. Those sources are the Word of God and His powerful presence. His presence brings us into the atmosphere of heaven confirming what Paul said about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a foretaste of this incredible place called heaven.
What is heaven like? Jonathan Edwards said that it was an eternal unveiling of God. Edwards also said that our joy in heaven will increase in intensity throughout eternity. What is the source of heaven’s joy? It is The Lord of course. To see Him, to be near Him, to hear His voice actually is heaven. Its not the jeweled thrones or the golden streets or even the mansions that make heaven, heaven. Heaven is heaven because of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Its in knowing Him that we find the true meaning of heaven. Here are some comments from Freddie Hayler and his song called Celestial Odyssey that describe some of the beauty and power of heaven.

“For the lips of the Lord are as a furnace of fire. There is no metaphor or words in earth language to describe all this. The face of our God cannot be spoken of. Yet from His glorious face, He emits sparks and lightnings of life for the entire universe. The light of the face of God is brighter than a trillion sun-stars. His holy face is man like, but it is translucent and incandescent, and so unutterably beautiful and pleasurable beyond any comparison .. supremely awesome and infinitely unique and glorious with powerful and mighty mysterious voices of incomprehensible magnitudes, multiple voices and billions of commands, simultaneous commands, coming forth from His mouth and being. His form is attended to by armies of millions of angels who obey His every pulse of thought and whim, who do His bidding and worship His holy face with unending singing.”

We can start enjoying heaven now. The sacrifice has been accepted, the way into the holiest of all has been opened. We can receive the fullness of His glory now. Look upon Jesus, set your love upon Him, worship Him; heaven is nearer than you think.

THE GARDEN OF GOD

July 18, 2014

Song 5:1 I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.
Eat, O friends!
Drink, yes, drink deeply,
O beloved ones!

At the end of the day, as John Lennon said, “all we need is love”. Obviously, Lennon did not know the love of God (even though there are rumors of his conversion just before his death) but he was longing for this love throughout his life. All of us long for love. It starts at our birth, we long to be in our mother’s arms. Throughout our lives we look for love, from our first case of puppy love, to the companionship of best friends, and even to the lifelong commitment of love found in marriage. Still, all of these earthly loves cannot quench the deep thirst for love that beats in all our hearts. We were born for love. The problem is this, not just any love will do. Our very nature cries out for the supernatural love only found in Christ. Heaven will be the culmination of our search for love. Here is a portion from Jonathan Edwards’ sermon called Heaven is a World of Love.

“And all this in a garden of love, the Paradise of God, where everything has a cast of holy love, and everything conspires to promote and stir up love, and nothing to interrupt its exercises; where everything is fitted by an all-wise God for the enjoyment of love under the greatest advantages. And all this shall be without any fading of the beauty of the objects beloved, or any decaying of love in the lover, and any satiety in the faculty which enjoys love. O! what tranquility may we conclude there is in such a world as this! Who can express the sweetness of this peace? What a calm is this, what a heaven of rest is here to arrive at after persons have gone through a world of storms and tempests, a world of pride, and selfishness, and envy, and malice, and scorn, and contempt, and contention and war? What a Canaan of rest, a land flowing with milk and honey to come to after one has gone through a great and terrible wilderness, full of spiteful and poisonous serpents, where no rest could be found? What joy may we conclude springs up in the hearts of the saints after they have passed their wearisome pilgrimage to be brought to such a paradise?”

The best news is this, we can taste this love today. This is the love poured out on us in the person of the Holy Spirit. If you are hurting from a betrayal of love or hurting from the conflicts found in this world, you can find rest drinking in God’s love in the Garden of God.


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