FREE RIVER

July 15, 2014

That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God—1 Corinthians 2:12

Parris and I recently moved to Covington, Louisiana; a bedroom community of New Orleans. Our house is actually on a small river called the Bogue Falaya. We have been able to spend a little time on this river on our days off on our kayaks. I have become more and more observant to the spiritual lessons you can learn by watching the river. One thing that I have come to appreciate is the freedom the river affords. Even though all of the properties on both banks of the river are private property, the river is available for whosoever will. There are kayakers, and fishermen, and children playing in the river. It is open to whoever wants to enjoy the cooling current. In the same way there is a river that flows from the throne of God. It is a river of grace and refreshing for all those that are thirsty. Here is something A. B. Simpson said about this river of grace.

“Always take grace as something you do not deserve, something that is freely bestowed. The long, deep, boundless river is free-as free at the mouth as it is at the little feeder stream. It is free all along its course; anybody can come and drink, and anybody can come and bathe in its refreshing waters. Do you believe that? God has given us His Holy Spirit that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God. It is a sad thing for a poor starving child to look longingly through the window and see a fire and the happy family sitting around a laden table. What is the good of knowing that there is warmth and love and light if it is not free? God has freely given all the goodness of His grace and love.”

The Bogue Falaya is quite shallow near my house. As you go down river other streams and tributaries join together that form quite a wide and deep river within just a few miles. The river of God has many currents and changes as you step into its flow. There are seasons when it may seem shallow and fast moving that leads to other places that are deeper and wider than you could ever imagine. Step into the river of God. It will wash you and heal you and transform you into another person. The only way that you cannot benefit from the blessing of the river is by staying stuck on its banks.

COMFORTING THE COMFORTLESS

July 14, 2014

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” IS.51:3

We are having our annual Summer Saturation. Nightly meetings right in the middle of the summer where it’s so hot you can hardly breathe. It is nice to gather around church folk like an old fashioned camp-meeting and see what The Lord does. So many people need healing, refreshing and direction from God. Last night while worshipping this scripture came up on the overhead and I felt The Lord’s presence speaking comfort to me and others. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people. saith your God”. Is. 40:1 Many times throughout my walk with God I feel the rain of His presence just like last night.
Spurgeon puts it this way, “The Holy Ghost, who brooded over chaos, and brought order out of confusion; the mighty Spirit who came down at Pentecost in tongues of fire, with a sound like a mighty rushing wind – that same blessed Spirit will come to the hearts of the members of his Church and comfort them. There are sorrows for which there is no solace within the reach of the creature; there is a ruin which it would baffle any mortal to retrieve. Happy for us that the Omnipotent comes to our aid. It is “he who telleth the number of the stars; calleth them all by their names”; who also “healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds! Where he is, rolling the stars along, filling heaven with wonder as he creates majestic orbs, and keeps them in their pathways, making the comet fling its gorgeous light across space and startle nations, holding the burning furnace of the sun in the hollow of his hand; yet he stoops down to minister to a desponding spirit, and to pour the oil and wine of heavenly comfort into a poor distracted heart! Yes, it is Zion that is to be comforted, but it is Jehovah himself who has promised to be her Comforter!”
Do you need a breakthrough? My friend the best thing you can do is to get out of your “comfort zone”. Shake yourself and find a Holy Ghost drinking hole. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. The worst thing you can do is just to sit there in that wasted place. He brings a comfort that no one else can bring-healing balms from heaven itself. He will come and step on your boat in the worst possible storm. Holy Ghost winds of change, deliverance and breakthrough are coming your way! Stretch forth that hand, pick up your pallet and walk, go show yourself to the priest, rise and be healed my friend. And when He comes, make sure you sing the song of thanksgiving for He is just that kind of God!

NO DELIVERANCES?

July 13, 2014

Forget not all His benefits.
Psalms 103:2

Bless The Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!!! This is how Psalm 103 starts. David is overcome with joy thinking of all of God’s blessings in his life. Have you ever been overcome with joy as you reflect on all The Lord has done for you? Reflecting on His benefits carries its own benefits within it. You think of His protection, provision, guidance, correction, and healing and you are drug out of whatever pit you were in. Suddenly, your faith is awakened and you have an expectancy of God’s next intervention into the affairs of your life.
I often remember how God saved me and called me into His work. I also reflect on His guidance, bringing me back to my home town. Then I remember His supernatural provision to start our ministry in NOLA. That brings me to His outpourings; the incredible move in the early days of our church and the shocking visitations of revival in the 90′s. Thinking about all He has done brings me to a place of expectancy. Surely the Author of all that has happened in these 40 years of my journey will be the Finisher. Here are some reflections from Spurgeon on the blessings of God.

“Have you had no deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence? Have you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have you had no choice favours? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, hath he never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, hath he never satiated you with fatness? Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters? Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old. Let us, then, weave his mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness, and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus. Let our souls give forth music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David’s harp, while we praise the Lord whose mercy endureth for ever.”

If you are hurting or down in the dumper today, reflecting on His blessing is a sure cure. Let’s join together with David and bless The Lord for He is good and His mercies are constant and never ending.

GOD IS NOT DEAD

July 12, 2014

Psa. 103:1-2 ¶ Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

Some people, and sadly, some churches act like God is dead. No they don’t come out and say it; they just act like it. Paul called it having a form of godliness but denying the power. It takes power to truly convert a fallen being into a child of God. It takes power to deliver someone from bondage to alcohol or lust. Only the power of God can heal the sick or change the course of someone’s miserable life. When older Christians fall into a funk and are tempted to believe that God is not going to come through for them we should listen to the words of David, “forget not His benefits”. If He has been faithful before, He will be faithful again. Here are some powerful thoughts from Charles Spurgeon on remembering God’s powerful acts.

“It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints, and to observe his goodness in delivering them, his mercy in pardoning them, and his faithfulness in keeping his covenant with them. But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to remark the hand of God in our own lives? Ought we not to look upon our own history as being at least as full of God, as full of his goodness and of his truth, as much a proof of his faithfulness and veracity, as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before? We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that he wrought all his mighty acts, and showed himself strong for those in the early time, but doth not perform wonders or lay bare his arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God.”

So what are you facing that has you singing the blues? Has God forgotten you? Impossible! Is He unable to help in this particular case? Unthinkable! Remember His promises, remember what He had done for you in the past. He is able to heal your body, forgive your sins, deliver you from the power of sin and even restore broken relationships. His benefits are uncountable and His best ones are just ahead of you.

HEAVEN IS A WORLD OF LOVE

July 11, 2014

Rom. 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Eph. 1:14 (The Holy Spirit) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Today’s title is actually a sermon title preached by Jonathan Edwards. The basis of the sermon is this, the atmosphere of heaven is the love of God. The love of God is displayed in the person of the Holy Spirit. If that is true, in Ephesians 1:14 Paul said that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee or foretaste of the world to come. No one can say this better than Jonathan Edwards, check out his view of heaven, this is one of my favorite Edwards’ sermon.

“There dwells God the Father, and so the Son, who are united in infinitely dear and incomprehensible mutual love. There dwells God the Father, who is the Father of mercies, and so the Father of love, who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life [John 3:16]. There dwells Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the Prince of peace and love, who so loved the world that he shed his blood, and poured out his soul unto death for it. There dwells the Mediator, by whom all God’s love is expressed to the saints, by whom the fruits of it have been purchased, and through whom they are communicated, and through whom love is imparted to the hearts of all the church. There Christ dwells in both his natures, his human and divine, sitting with the Father in the same throne. There is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of divine love, in whom the very essence of God, as it were, all flows out or is breathed forth in love, and by whose immediate influence all holy love is shed abroad in the hearts of all the church [Romans 5:5]. There in heaven this fountain of love, this eternal three in one, is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it. There this glorious God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love; there the fountain overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love.”

I can’t wait to swim in that river of love. We can touch the edges of it now, when we do it is unspeakable. His love is poured on us and into through our encounters with the Holy Spirit. It seems like the modern church has run as far as it can from the moving of the Spirit. That’s okay, His love never ceases and greater outpourings are inevitable.

ACCUMULATED PRAYER

July 10, 2014

Rev. 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

What an unusual concept, accumulated prayers. I guess the reason the concept of stored up prayers seems strange may be our lack of understanding of what true prayer is. The nature of prayer is spiritual, not natural. Our effective prayers are birthed by the Holy Spirit making our prayers themselves supernatural. Praying in the Spirit is actually The Lord praying through us; we may be praying scripture, praying for some well known need in our natural language, or even praying in our heavenly language. The Lord actually prays through us making our prayers actually eternal prayers. Our prayers transcend time and space and for us, stuck in the finite world governed by time, prayers appear to be “stored up” before the Father’s Throne. Here is how Andrew Murray describes stored up prayer.

“We learn here that the prayers of the saints in the Old Testament concerning the promised redemption were preserved in heaven. These prayers are offered as incense at the throne of the Lamb, so that He may lay them before the Father. Later, in Revelation 8 we also read of the angel who stood at the altar before the throne with a golden censer filled with the prayers of all the saints.
What profound and heavenly thoughts do these words awaken within us! The prayers of the saints are not answered at once. Just as men on earth accumulate money and allow it to increase as capital for greater undertakings, so the prayers of the saints are stored up in heaven until the measure is full and the answer can descend.”

There is a lot of prayer that has been stored up these last 2000 years. Every time I pray; Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, my prayers join together with the countless multitudes that have prayed that prayer the last 2000 years. My prayers are accumulated with the prayers of the 12 apostles, with the Apostle Paul, and all of those powerful first century Christians. My prayers are mingled before the throne with the prayers of the martyrs from every generation. They are joined with the prayers of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Bunyan. They ascend with the prayers of Whitefield, Edwards, Wesley, and Spurgeon. They even are rising as incense with the prayers of Evan Roberts, Seymore, MacPhaerson and Kuhlman. Come Lord, pour out your Spirit, your censer is filling up!!!

THE NIGHT THE ANGELS SANG

July 9, 2014

Rev. 4:9-10 ¶ And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and forever…

There is a night of renown amongst people who love revival called the night the angels sang. It took place in January of 1995 in a revival at Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland, Florida in a revival meeting conducted by Rodney Howard Browne. I was actually there lying on the floor near the right side of the platform when the angels began to sing. From what I can remember (I was heavily inebriated in the Spirit) after a lengthy time of corporate singing in heavenly languages the heavy weight of glory fell in a way I have seldom, if ever experienced. That’s when the angels sang. I even felt one place his hand on my back, it was one of the most powerful things I have ever encountered. The strangest thing about that event was that not everyone there even felt anything. There were several world renowned preachers within feet of me on the front row making comments like “I don’t feel anything. Do you feel anything?” That was quite shocking. There were angels present and glory present and some were unaffected.
The Apostle John commented about the effect angels singing have on the redeemed even in heaven. He was there around the throne with the angelic choir and the elders themselves falling on the ground. Angels often attend our services on earth, sometimes they even sing. Freddie Hayler has a song called the Song of Angels. Every time I listen to it I feel that heavenly presence. Here are some of the words to his song.

SONG OF ANGELS

There
In the night sky
Beyond the starlight
In a vision
I see Glory
The archangels
and Michael’s,
hands raising
Angelic tongues of fire
Flow from his being
God let me hear
Celestial beauty
God help me
Liberate my spirit free
to sing the Angel’s song
all around Your Glorious Throne

Verse 2
Lord help me to see
Your Holy face
Illuminated
A blazing beauty
God help me
Liberate my spirit free
To sing the Angel’s song.
All around Your Glorious Throne
I hear the Angel’s song.

For those not familiar with the effects of His presence, I do not drink alcohol. I was speaking of heavenly intoxication that happens in a His presence. Join together in worship with the angels around the throne today. We can rarely hear them but they are always singing. Maybe today you too will feel and sing the song of angels.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

July 8, 2014

Called to be saints.
Romans 1:7

Living in New Orleans the word “saints” takes on a different connotation. Of course the term “New Orleans Saints” has taken on a new love and devotion since Hurricane Katrina; the whole world became Saints fans in the year that pigs flew and hell froze over. New Orleans also has a strong Catholic heritage. For the Catholic, the saints become a major part of their faith, even to the place of praying to “saints” who are perceived as having the Father’s ear.
For the born again Christian, the word “saints” takes on a different meaning. The Bible use of the word “saint” was in reference to all who had become a son or daughter of God by faith in Christ. Are you a saint? If Christ is your Lord; absolutely! Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes saints.

“We are very apt to regard the apostolic saints as if they were saints in a more especial manner than the other children of God. All are saints whom God has called by His grace, and sanctified by His Spirit; but we are apt to look upon the apostles as extraordinary beings, scarcely subject to the same weaknesses and temptations as ourselves. Do not, then, look upon the ancient saints as being exempt either from infirmities or sins; and do not regard them with that mystic reverence which will almost make us idolaters. Their holiness is attainable even by us. We are called to be saints by that same voice which constrained them to their high vocation. It is a Christian’s duty to force his way into the inner circle of saintship; and if these saints were superior to us in their attainments, as they certainly were, let us follow them; let us emulate their ardor and holiness. We have the same light that they had, the same grace is accessible to us, and why should we rest satisfied until we have equalled them in heavenly character? They lived with Jesus, they lived for Jesus, therefore they grew like Jesus. Let us live by the same Spirit as they did, looking unto Jesus, and our saintship will soon be apparent.”

So I dedicate today’s devotion to the New Orleans Saints. Not to our beloved football “saints”, but to the church in New Orleans, those who have been purchased by His blood. We have the same access into the Father’s presence as those powerful first century saints. We can come boldly before His throne today and find grace to help in our time of need.

HIGH CALLING OF CHRIST

July 7, 2014

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection” Heb. 6:1

Many times we can find ourselves just plan stuck. Frank and I call it Groundhog Day. In the movie, Bill Murray finds himself living the same day over and over again. If we don’t watch ourselves we land in a deep rut and then the trouble really begins. Compromise, boredom and offenses are sure to follow. Sometimes we just have to fight to hold onto our joy. We simply cannot listen to the voice of the stranger in our inner ear. Everyday we find the PORTAL so to speak in which we can learn to see the beauty of Christ in everything. Yes, I said in everything. Daily I must choose to taste and see that The Lord is good, for He is working in me a “far weightier glory”. For how long do we press on? “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”(Ephesians 4:13, 14)
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection” Heb. 6:1 Simpson says it this way. “Let us now advance, let us make progress, let us grow in grace, let us not be easily satisfied with present attainments, for, unless we go on we shall surely go back. It is not safe to lose an inch of ground. “We are not of them who draw back unto perdition.” The faintest drawing back may land us in perdition. There is no portion of the Holy Scriptures so filled with impressive warnings against backsliding as this. In two of its leading chapters, the sixth and tenth, we are told of the peril of the soul that falls away, and the only remedy against falling away is to go forward. Are we going on? And are we going unto perfection? Is our goal the very highest? Are we aiming at nothing less than the highest possibilities of a life of faith and service for God? Nothing less is safe, and nothing less is worthy of our high calling and our exceeding great and precious promises.”
God creates in us a hunger that only He can fill. He wants us to stretch ourselves into deeper realms of glory, deeper realms of reaching out to people. Groundhog Day just isn’t acceptable to the Christian. Our battle cry is still the same! Reaching out to a dying world with the message of Redemption. My advise to you if you feel well bored? Dive into the word of God, find a good church that will actually challenge you and PRAY THAT THE LORD WILL SEND HIS FIRE! FRESH WIND FROM HEAVEN. Anything else is just not acceptable.

BEAUTIFUL VIEW

July 6, 2014

Psa. 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.

As they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. We all have our own versions of beauty, a lot of it depends on personal taste. There are some things I think of as especially beautiful. For example, I remember looking out of my window at night flying from London to Nairobi and having my breath taken away by the beauty of the Alps. The full moon, a clear night, and snow covered mountains from 36,000 feet were quite a sight. Another version of beauty for me was found at the Orsay Museum in Paris, I stood awestruck looking at the artwork of Monet. The author of all beauty is The Lord, He also is enthralled with beauty, caught up in beholding His own glory in His beloved Son. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes God enjoying His own beauty.

“God is happy in beholding the brightness of His own glory; but this glory He beholds in beholding His Son, whom, we are told, is the brightness of His glory, the express image of His Person (Hebrews 1:3). In beholding this perfect, express image, He has an infinitely more perfect view of Himself and the brightness of His own glory that a man has who beholds his own image in a glass. And thus is that God loves and delights in Himself, in that infinite and eternal delight that is between the Father and the Son. And because God’s happiness thus consists in the communion of the Persons of the Trinity, and the love and delight of the Father and the Son in each other, hence the apostle, when speaking of the special happiness of Christians, and how that therein they partake of the happiness of God, mentions the Persons of the Trinity and says, “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

What is your version of beauty? Whether it is a mountaintop view, the crashing waves of the ocean, a towering home run, or the face of a newborn child; all of these versions of beauty become shadows in the blazing light of beauty found in the face of Jesus Christ. Once you have glimpsed His glory you will know why David had to sing. David was stopped in his tracks by beauty and could not help himself, “One thing have I desired of The Lord and that will I seek after that I may dwell in the house of The Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of The Lord”.


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