DANGEROUS PRAISE

November 17, 2014

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.Psalm 51:15

I went to a Bible School near Fresno, California back in the 1970’s. Part of the curriculum at the school was evangelism. Each week there would be an evangelism assignment as part of the course requirements. There were some really unusual assignments designed to get the students out of the arena of fear, some of them were quite bizarre. One of my assignments was to go to a certain bar in Fresno with a tambourine. I was to get everyone’s attention by banging the tambourine and after I got everyone’s attention, sing “What Can Wash Away My Sin”. Actually the event turned out better than I could have imagined. All eyes were on me in the bar that day the moment I began to play the tambourine. After I finished singing the song they all stared at me as if to say “And so…”. I was able to preach just about everything I knew that night. All I can remember was the empty eyes and empty hearts staring out to me at the bar. Overcoming the fear of man is important when it comes to public worship. Check out what Luther had to say about the danger of worship.

“By asking the Lord to open his lips, David showed how difficult it is to offer thanks to God. This is something God demands of us. Talking about the Lord and thanking him publicly require an extreme amount of courage and strength, because the devil is constantly trying to stop us from doing this. If we could see all of Satan’s traps, we would know why David prayed for the Spirit’s strength and asked the Lord himself to open David’s lips. He wanted to tell the devil, the world, kings, princes, and everyone about the Lord. Many things can keep our lips shut: the fear of danger, the hope of gaining something, or even the advice of friends. The devil uses these ways to stop us from offering thanks to God, as I have often experienced in my life. And yet, at important times, when God’s honor was threatened, God stood by me and opened my mouth in spite of the obstacles. The Spirit urges us on—just as Peter says, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard”. The Spirit prays to God for us with many groans. Then the Lord opens our lips to announce his praise.”

So go ahead, stir up the gift of God, you may be amazed at the power of God that comes upon you and fills you up with courage. He will open your lips and fill you with His praise.

CONSECRATED BY THE BLOOD

November 16, 2014

Heb. 9:12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

Peter called us a royal priesthood. Every Christian is a kingly priest, I wish the full impact of what that means would settle in on us. In the Old Testament, the priests came from the tribe of Levi. These priests were called by God to a higher level of consecration than the rest of the nation of Israel. Their duties involved work in the temple near the very Shekinah Presence of the Lord. Consecration was essential. As Christians our whole life is to be lived in the proximity of the Shekinah. After all, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of that. If this is true, we have to value the blood of Jesus, it is through the blood that we offer ourselves in consecration as a living offering to the Lord. Andrew Murray had a powerful understanding of the precious blood of Jesus, check out his thoughts.

“His own blood. I know of no word in the Bible or in human speech that contains such mysteries! In it are concentrated the mysteries of the incarnation, in which our God took flesh and blood; of the obedience unto death, in which the blood was shed; of the love that passeth knowledge, that purchased us with His own blood; of the victory over every enemy, and the everlasting redemption; of the resurrection and the entrance into heaven; of the atonement and the reconciliation and the justification that came through it; of the cleansing and perfecting of the conscience, of the sprinkling of the heart and the sanctifying the people. Through that blood Christ entered once for all into heaven; through that blood we enter too, and have our home in the Holiest of All. As the Holy Spirit from heaven, dwelling in us, imparts to us the boldness the blood gives, and the love into which it opens the way, our whole inner being will be brought under its power, and the cleansing of the blood in its full extent be our experience.”

We have a new home now. Just as the levitical priests made their home near the temple courts, we have made our home in the Holiest of all. We have access, not just in special times, but as a new way of life. Consecrate yourself to the Lord, draw near, there is a new and living way available to us.

A NEW WAY TO LIVE

November 15, 2014

Heb. 10:19 ¶ Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
Heb. 10:20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,

It was on a cold, rainy day in the coastal mountains of Oregon in the 1970’s that I stumbled on a mini book by Andrew Murray called “Let us Draw Nigh”. That little book rocked my world. In it, the Lord began to call me to a new level of consecration to God. It was the phrase, “new and living way” that grabbed my attention. Murray repeated that phrase again and again as he spoke of the heavenly life. I had been stuck in the ‘feeling sorry for myself’ zone and this heavenly life seemed very far away. Murray’s words literally dripped with the heavenly world. Somehow I knew the key was those words, ’a new and living way’. Here is a short excerpt from that book, hope it calls you closer.

“As we are made partakers of Christ, as we come to God through Him, His life, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, takes possession of us, and in His strength we follow in the footsteps of Christ Jesus. The way into the Holiest is the living way of perfect conformity to Jesus, wrought in us by His Spirit. The new and living way through the rent veil into the Holiest. We now know what it is: it is the way of death. Yes, the way of death is the way of life. The only way to be set free from our fallen nature, with the curse and power of sin resting on it, is to die to it. Jesus denied Himself, would do nothing to please that nature He had taken, sinless though it was in Him. He denied it; He died to it. This was to Him the path of life. And this is to us the living way.”

That’s it, the way to the path of life is the path of death. We have to die to ourselves that we can live to God. That’s what the blood of Jesus was about. Not only is the blood sacrificial, it cleanses us of our sins, it also speaks to us of another way to live our lives; the new and living way. Like Jesus said, it is in dying that we live. So let’s follow Jesus to the cross, it leads us to an empty tomb and a throne in the heavenlies.

THE LOVE OF GOD

November 14, 2014

1John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

From the earliest days of man’s existence,from the time of our fall, our view of God has been clouded. As Paul said, “We see through a glass darkly”. Paul was talking about the clouded view of the Lord that even Christians have. For the lost, they have a veil over their eyes and their view is entirely blocked. Christ came to display, or bring into view,  the love of God. His birth, His life and ministry, His death and resurrection, and His present day heavenly ministry all display  God’s endless love. It is the influence of grace that begins to open our eyes to His matchless love. Amazing grace opens our heart to taste and see the love the Father lavishes upon us in Christ. He loves you more than you know. This love attracts us , satisfies us, sustains us, and empowers us along His amazing journey for our lives. Here are some thoughts by A.B. Simpson on God’s love for us.

“The God who wills nothing but good is a God of love. He does not seek His own. He does not live for Himself, but pours out His love on all living creatures.

The characteristic of love is that it does not seek its own. Love finds its happiness in giving to others; it sacrifices itself entirely for others. Even so, God offered Himself to people in the Person of His Son, and the Son offered Himself on the cross to bring that love to men and to win their hearts. The everlasting love with which the Father loved the Son is the same love with which the Son loves us. Christ has poured this love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, so that our whole life may be permeated with its vital power.”

Jesus displayed this love when he lovingly cleansed the lepers. Love was pouring from His being as He stopped the funeral procession in Nain and put His hand on the casket. Love demanded He feed the multitudes with the little boys lunch. Against unprecedented hostility, love compelled Christ to go Jerusalem to die on the cross. Today, His love is aimed straight at you. He is touched with your troubles. Stop for a moment, think about this love of Jesus. Let His love arrest you. What He has done for others, surely He will do for you.

COME TO THE TABLE

November 13, 2014

1Pet. 2:1 ¶ So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

1Pet. 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—

1Pet. 2:3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Peter is making a major appeal to Christians in this passage to consecrate themselves to the Lord. He makes quite a demand; put off malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Next He says to long for the pure milk of the Lord that we may grow. This reminds me of the famous quote of Augustine. He said ‘command what you will but give what you command” Wow! Could that really be true? The Lord places high demands on His people but then the miracle happens; He gives what He commands. He actually lives in us and empowers us to complete our assignments.  This is how it works; the Lord places a requirement on us and then, He actually steps in to fulfill the very command that He gave to us. Peter is describing our Christian life as putting off, like a garment; malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. These are just the descriptions of what bubbles out of our lives when we are in a carnal state. When we follow Peter’s advice and feast on the word, Christ intervenes and His life flows out of us. Rather than malice we have kindness, honesty replaces deceit, genuineness replaces hypocrisy, rather than envious we are generous, and slander is replaced with lips of grace.

Peter is explaining to us the beauty, simplicity, and joy of the consecrated life. Like an infant longs for his mother’s milk, we long for the milk of the Word. It is not our obligation but our joy to drink in His word.

Peter also talked about tasting the goodness of the Lord. This analogy is another example of the natural pleasures of life that extend to our spiritual life. Eating good food is one of the pleasures of life. Each food has its own unique taste. In the same way, tasting of the goodness of the Lord is part of our daily spiritual routine. It is not a burden but our delight to come to the table of the Lord. We can easily put off the old life if we have this enjoyable replacement. Start your day off with a gospel feast, it will be a lot easier to get control of your actions and your tongue.

MANIFESTATIONS – FLESH OR SPIRIT?

November 12, 2014

Acts 2:17 ¶ “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Last weekend there was an outpouring on some of the youth at our church. There was extended times of prayer and worship Friday and Saturday nights that was marked by stories of visions, trances, new converts speaking in other tongues, and quite a large measure of unspeakable joy. As a matter of fact it continued throughout Sunday into Sunday evening. One of the young women from the meetings was obviously deeply touched (laughter and spiritual intoxication) and prayed for everyone at Sunday night church with the laying on of hands. It was awesome. Many stray away from these spiritual manifestations because of being afraid of the flesh. It seems like not much has changed over the years. R.T. Kendal describes the same dilemma in the time of George Whitefield and John Wesley.

“Reformed people today tend to applaud the ministry and success of someone like George Whitefield whom God used mightily in England and New England. But I wonder what they would have thought had they been alive then and seen some of the fallout of his preaching—when people laughed, cried, shouted, and barked like dogs! Many cessationists today would have called George Whitefield’s ministry strange fire. John Wesley fiercely criticized Whitefield for allowing fanaticism to exist under his preaching. Whitefield acknowledged that not all that took place under his ministry was of God. Some of it was of the flesh indeed. “Then stamp out the flesh and what is false,” countered Wesley.
“But,” said Whitefield, “if you stamp out what is of the flesh you will stamp out what is real as well.” You have to let what happens flow. It is part of the stigma of true revival. Nothing is perfect in this life. In other words, when God comes in power, you should expect to see things that make you cringe. But we should not let this stop us from welcoming the Holy Spirit with open arms—even if the devil gets involved too. Expect this. Revival simply does not come in a neat and tidy package.”
I love the outpouring of the Spirit. It makes some people uncomfortable, but it always has. I say do it again Lord. Our world needs to be awakened from its sleep. Maybe you have drifted far from your spiritual moorings; what is the answer? We need another visitation of the Lord.

DO IT AGAIN LORD

November 11, 2014

Psa. 102:15 Nations will fear the name of the LORD,

and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.

All of us know the world is a mess and really needs to be fixed. I guess the question that needs to be asked is how does it need to be changed and how should that be accomplished? As usual, the Lord has a very simple answer. What is that answer? The solution lies in the church itself not in the culture of the world. Revival, divine visitation in the local church, ultimately impacts the world we live in. Think about it, the Almighty God visits His people, how can there not be a change? Everywhere He goes, life follows. When God visits His church, today’s verse says the people (nations) and even the kings will be impacted. I say ‘do it again Lord’. Here is how Spurgeon sees it.

So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD. Mercy within the church is soon perceived by those without. When a candle is lit in the house, it shines through the window. When Zion rejoices in her God, the heathen been to reverence his name, for they hear of the wonders of his power, and are impressed thereby. And all the kings of the earth thy glory. The restoration of Jerusalem was a marvel among the princes who heard of it, and its ultimate resurrection in days yet to come will be one of the prodigies of history. A church quickened by divine power is so striking an object in current history that it cannot escape notice, rulers cannot ignore it, it affects the Legislature, and forces from the great ones of the earth a recognition of the divine working. Oh that we might see in our days such a revival of religion that our senators and princes might be compelled to pay homage to the Lord, and own his glorious grace. This cannot be till the saints are better edified, and more fully builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Internal prosperity is the true source of the church’s external influence.”

The Lord has promised to do it again, numerous prophecies describe a great time of spiritual outpouring at the end of the age. It seems as if the Lord is allowing a time of spiritual darkness in the land; that will be temporary. If you look throughout history there is often a time of great darkness just before the light breaks in. The time of darkness is passing away, the true day is drawing near. DO IT AGAIN LORD.

THE GREAT DRAWING ROOM OF GOD

November 10, 2014

Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

Ps.56:8 “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

A few years ago I saw myself standing outside the door of this huge great room filled with books. It was one of those rooms that was filled with heavy wood paneling and books as far as the eyes can see. I realized in my spirit that the door was always open but for some reason I never had opened it. Inside I saw three people sitting at a table and I knew them to be the TRINITY. I found myself walking in and them bidding me to come to them at the table. When seated, the three of them pulled out these huge scrolls spreading them out all over the table. I again realized in my spirit that the scrolls represented my life. At first I became very hesitant but the presence at the table was so peaceful and calming that I knew whatever was in those scrolls it would be ok. The vision closed with the four of us talking and laughing over my life. Leeland wrote this song that also seems identical to what I experienced. It goes like this:

Who was I, where was I going?
What kind of fruit,
Were my actions growing?
Staring at the pages
He’ll be staring at the pages, Of my life.
Was my passion just to know Him?
Did I really let it out and showed Him?
Staring at the pages
He’ll be staring at the pages, Of my life.”

Gill said, “Thou tellest my wanderings,…. the days of his pilgrimage and sojourning in this world: the number of our days, and months and years, in which we wander about in this uncertain state of things, is with the Lord. God will take notice of David’s afflictions and troubles, which had caused so many tears, and remember them, and deliver him out of them: these being desired to be put into a bottle was, that they might be kept and reserved. There is no comparison nor proportion between the sufferings of the saints and the glory that shall be revealed in them; though there is a connection of grace through the promise of God between them: but rather, that they might be brought forth another day and shown. They are in his book of purposes; they are all appointed by him, their kind and nature, their measure and duration, their quality and quantity; what they shall be, and how long they shall last; and their end and use: and they are in his book of providence, and are all overruled and caused to work for their good; and they are in the book of his remembrance; they are taken notice of and numbered by him, and shall be finished; they shall not exceed their bounds. These tears will be turned into joy, and God will wipe them all away from the eyes of his people.”

NO WORDS CAN TELL

November 9, 2014

1Pet. 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

One of my greatest earthly treasures are ‘The Works of Jonathan Edwards’ produced by Yale University Press. I began to collect these volumes (there are 26 hard bound books) shortly after the visitation of the Spirit in 1994. Volume four in this series has to be my favorite, it contains writings by Edwards dealing with the outpouring of the Spirit in his church. One of these was his famous work called ‘A Faithful Narrative”. In that volume there are various testimonies of individuals in the church in Northampton that experienced the effect of the Spirit in their life. Today’s excerpt describes the doctrinal emphasis of salvation by grace through faith permeated with a sense of supernatural joy. Enjoy!

“They very often speak much of their sense of the excellency of the way of salvation by free and sovereign grace, through the righteousness of Christ alone; and how it is with delight that they renounce their own righteousness, and rejoice in having no account made of it. Many have expressed themselves to this purpose, that it would lessen the satisfaction they hope for in heaven to have it by their own righteousness, or in any other way than as bestowed by free grace, and for Christ’s sake alone. They speak much of the inexpressibleness of what they experience, how their words fail, so that they can in no wise declare it: and particularly speak with exceeding admiration of the superlative excellency of that pleasure and delight of soul, which they sometimes enjoy; how a little of it is sufficient to pay ‘em for all the pains and trouble they have gone through in seeking salvation; and how far it exceeds all earthly pleasures: and some express much of the sense which these spiritual views give ‘em of the vanity of earthly enjoyments, how mean and worthless all these things appear to ‘em.”

I love the purity that I sense as I read the testimony of people touched by Christ almost 300 years ago. I guess it is so special to me because it rings so close to home. Their story is my story. The question I want to pose to you is this, is this your story? Has your heart been awakened by the kiss of sovereign joy. Have you drunk from the well of amazing grace? If so, your voice joins together with those from ancient revivals telling the story that no words can tell.

FORGOT TO EAT

November 8, 2014

John 4:32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

I love the stories of revival of days long ago. These stories are precious to me because they are my story. One of my favorite books is called ‘A Faithful Narrative’ written by Jonathan Edwards describing the effect of the awakening that hit his church in 1734-1735. He speaks of individuals becoming so overcome with the joy of heaven that they actually forgot to eat. Now that will get your attention. We may forget a lot of things but eating is not one of those things. Here is a description of this phenomenon by Edwards.

“Many, while their minds have been filled with spiritual delights, have as it were forgot their food; their bodily appetite has failed, while their minds have been entertained with meat to eat that others knew not of. The light and comfort which some of them enjoy, gives a new relish to their common blessings, and causes all things about ‘em to appear as it were beautiful, sweet and pleasant to them: all things abroad, the sun, moon and stars, the clouds and sky, the heavens and earth, appear as it were with a cast of divine glory and sweetness upon them. The sweetest joy that these good people amongst us express, is not that which consists in a sense of the safety of their own state, and that now they are out of danger of hell; frequently, in times of their highest spiritual entertainment, this seems to be as it were forgotten. The supreme attention of their minds is to the glorious excellencies of God and Christ, which they have in view; not but that there is very often a ravishing sense of God’s love accompanying a sense of his excellency, and they rejoice in a sense of the faithfulness of God’s promises, as they respect the future eternal enjoyment of God.”

I love the simplicity of the effect of God’s outpouring. Edwards describes one of these effects as an unusual focus on the person of Christ Himself. He becomes strangely alluring, or as Solomon said, altogether lovely. He said there was also an interest in the surety of God’s promises. Revival began to burn into the hearts of God’s people the steadfast assurance that God’s promises are guaranteed. Thank you Lord. The same Spirit that aroused the love of the saints in 1734 is falling on us and awakening us in 2014. Jesus is ALTOGETHER LOVELY and His promises are sure.


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