SAVE HIS PEOPLE

December 10, 2014

Matt. 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Today’s verse comes from the angel’s message to Joseph. The angel was telling Joseph that it was okay for him to go ahead with the wedding plans, it was God’s plan for Joseph to take Mary as his wife. Joseph had some huge things to think about. First,he was trying to wrap his head around a virgin birth. Secondly, he was trying to sort out what saving His people from their sins meant. You see, Christ came because of our sins. He came to die to forgive us for our sins but His work only began there. It was saving us from the power of sin that really was the point of the coming of Christ. All of us were born in a state of slavery to sin. The power of the gospel not only forgives but liberates us from the clutches of sin that held us in bondage. Here are some powerful thoughts by John Piper on why Jesus came.

“Two times in 1 John 3:1–10 we are told why Christmas happened—that is, why the eternal, divine Son of God came into the world as human.
In verse 5, John says, “You know that he appeared to take away sins,”

Then in the second part of verse 8, John says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” And the specific focus John has in mind when he says “works of the devil” is the sin that the Devil promotes. We see that in the first part of verse 8: “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” So the works of the Devil that Jesus came to destroy are the works of sin.
So two times John tells us that Christmas happened—the Son of God became human—to take away sin, or to destroy the works of the Devil, namely, sin. Jesus was born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit and “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” and was “perfectly obedient and sinless in all his life and ministry, all the way to the point of death, even death on a cross”—in order to destroy the woks of the devil – to take away sin.”

So shout the angel’s message from the rooftops. We are saved from the power of sin. We were once held by sin’s power but not anymore, Christ has set us free. This Christmas we will magnify the name of Jesus because He has saved us from our sins.

FULLNESS

December 9, 2014

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
JOHN 1:14–16

My mom was all about the Christmas stockings. We had huge stockings and they were always overflowing with goodies. I remember the excitement every year on Christmas morning when it got to the time to take down the stockings from the chimney. There was everything from fruit to nuts, and candy to small presents. The stockings being full to overflowing is a picture of the fullness we receive in Christ. Just as there was no room for anymore prizes in our stockings, a heart filled with God is totally overflowing.
Christmas is all about fullness. The fullness of God appeared in God’s Son that first Christmas Day. He came to this earth so that we too could experience the fullness of God. Have you tasted this grace upon grace, this overflowing goodness of God that today’s scripture describes ?Fullness is real and is available for us all. John Piper described “saturating” in God’s fullness one Christmas season, check this out.

“It was a drenching moment for me that Advent. A man in our church had just prayed the words of John 1:14–16 in a pre-service prayer meeting. God granted me in that moment that the word “fullness” fill me. It was an extraordinary experience. There was a kind of Holy Spirit soaking.
I felt some measure of what the word really carries—the fullness of Christ. I felt some of the wonder that I had indeed received grace upon grace from this fullness. And I was at that moment receiving grace upon grace. I felt right then that nothing would have been sweeter than to simply sit at his feet—or read my Bible—all afternoon and feel his fullness overflow.”

I love today’s scripture, John described his own personal experience with God’s fullness. He said that it was received, ‘grace upon grace’. I guess grace upon grace would describe my own spiritual Christmas experiences. Thinking back, my first Christian Christmas was the first time I wasn’t able to return home for Christmas. There were no stockings, no fire place, and very few presents. Parris and I were newly married and we were broke. Yet, we were filled with God’s fullness. I remember reading the scripture verses about the birth of Christ on the Christmas cards; as I read those words, the mystery of the incarnation stuck me. It was as if I was overflowing with joy as the good news of great joy filled my soul with the fullness of God.

RETURN TO THE ARK

December 8, 2014

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.” Genesis 8:9

It doesn’t take long as your flipping the channels on the TV to see the world’s unrest. You can load up with soybeans, gunpowder and change the laws but it still doesn’t settle the unrest in people’s hearts. Noah in his time experienced the end of all mankind. The ark became the vehicle to carry him to a safe harbor. The dove was sent out to find peace in a troubled time.
Spurgeon said, “The dove found no rest out of the ark, and therefore returned to it. My soul has learned yet more fully than ever, this day, that there is no satisfaction to be found in earthly things; God alone can give rest to my spirit. It was at the still hour, when the gates of the day were closing, that with weary wings the dove came back to the master. O Lord, enable me this evening thus to return to Jesus. She could not endure to spend a night hovering over the restless waste, nor can I bear to be even for another hour away from Jesus, the rest of my heart, the home of my spirit. She did not merely alight upon the roof of the ark, she “came to him”, even so would my longing spirit look into the secret of the Lord, pierce to the interior of truth, enter into that which is within the veil, and reach to my Beloved in very deed”.
You can go beyond the veil my friend and find the comfort and peace your looking for in a chaotic world.
Matthew Henry said, “The dove is an emblem of a gracious soul, that, finding no solid peace of satisfaction in this deluged, defiling world, returns to Christ as to its ark, as to its Noah, its rest. The defiling world, returns to Christ as to its ark, as to its Noah, its rest. The carnal heart, like the raven, takes up with the world, and feeds on the carrion it finds there; but return thou to my rest, O my soul; to thy Noah, so the word is, #Ps 116:7|. And as Noah put forth his hand, and took the dove, and pulled her to him, into the ark, so Christ will save, and help, and welcome those that flee to him for rest.”
There’s nothing like the deep tranquil abiding rest of God that will sustain you over troubled waters. I find myself quoting over you “let the peace of God that passeth all understanding keep your hearts and mind. He will bring you back to the ark because this world isn’t our home. Leave this sea of human strife and passion. He will bring you into his everlasting habitation.

THE ANGELS ARE STILL SINGING

December 7, 2014

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (Lk 2:13,14)

This was the strangest day ever for these shepherds. They were just simple men; after all, they were only shepherds. They were just ordinary Jewish men, just taking care of their flocks, trying to survive and support their family. But this was not an ordinary night—this was the night that would define their lives. They had never seen an angel, they had never met or even heard of anyone who ever had, but that was about to change.

Suddenly a light like they had never seen filled the meadow where they were resting, and they were suddenly all wide awake. Then they heard it; it was a sound like they had never heard before, it was music, but much more than music. This music was like a living being, and it seemed to be full of life itself. It was all around them; it was inside of them, but seemed to be coming from these strange, holy creatures that were lighting up the sky with the glory reflecting off of them.

They were singing about a Savior, born of a virgin in a manger in nearby Bethlehem. As unbelievable as it sounded, after what they had just witnessed they knew it was true. Suddenly they were on the run and they couldn’t stop until they found this child wrapped in swaddling clothes in the stable at the inn in Bethlehem.

These angels are still singing after 2000 years, and they are not about to stop. How could they stop? Living in the presence of such greatness, they have to sing! Those that have ears to hear can still hear their singing today. Charles Wesley heard the angels singing in the 1700’s and wrote his famous song “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. Listen to one of the verses of his song— you never know, maybe you will hear the voice of the angels in his song.

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface, Stamp Thine image in its place: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love. Let us Thee, though lost, regain, Thee, the Life, the inner man: O, to all Thyself impart, Formed in each believing heart. Hark the herald angels sing Glory to the newborn King”

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface”. All of us carry the “likeness” of the fallen man, Adam. Christ came to stamp His image in its place. As we draw near to the Lord, the hope of Christmas is being formed in each of us—the image of Christ Himself.

This blog is from my book  “Great is the Mystery of Godliness”

MAGNIFY

December 6, 2014

Luke 1:46 ¶ And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

I love what happens to people when they have an encounter with God. It has happened to radically different kinds of people from various cultures and even different centuries. The beauty to me is this, there is a very familiar sense that we get when we hear of someone else’s testimony of what the Lord has done in their life. That is what this famous song of Mary is all about, she is breaking out into a spontaneous prophetic song of joy as she reflects on what had recently happened to her with the angelic encounter. Like the angel had said, the Spirit of the Lord had come upon Mary and overshadowed her. She had conceived in her womb God’s only begotten Son. There had obviously been a fresh anointing placed upon her life, thus the prophetic song of joy.  Martin Luther spoke often about this beautiful song, here are some of his thoughts.

‘We come to the “magnifies,” which means to make great, to exalt, to esteem one highly, as having the power, the knowledge, and the desire to preform many great and good things, such as those that follow in this canticle. Just as a book title indicates what is the contents of the book, so this word “magnifies” is used by Mary to indicate what her hymn of praise is to be about, namely, the great works and deeds of God, for the strengthening of our faith, for the comforting of all those of low degree, and for the terrifying of all the mighty ones of earth. We are to let the hymn serve this threefold purpose; for she sang it not for herself alone but for us all, to sing it after her.’

That brings us to you. How is it with your soul as we approach this Christmas of 2014? Over two thousand Christmas times have come and gone since Mary first sang her song. Today, I believe Mary is still singing, gathered with the very angels that had announced the birth of her Son around God’s throne. The best news is this, that same anointing that came upon Mary can come upon us today. It doesn’t take much. If you just think about Him and His works and talk about Him, you too will be caught up in the rhythm  of Mary’s song. You too will magnify the Lord and sing of His great works.

PROVIDENCE

December 5, 2014

Luke 2:1 ¶ In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

I don’t think Joseph was filled with joy when he was summoned to the home of his heritage to pay his taxes. It was a most inconvenient time for this unusual family. Joseph’s wife was carrying a baby in her womb that didn’t come from Joseph. The whispering of rumors in Nazareth were bad enough, taking a trip to Bethlehem on a donkey with a pregnant wife to pay taxes he couldn’t afford to intruders he didn’t like was a little too much. All of these supposed inconveniences were actually the working of the hand of the unseen God. As the old saying goes, the Lord often works in mysterious ways. Here are some interesting comments from John Calvin about God’s providential plan concerning His birth.

“Thus we see that the holy servants of God, even though they wander from their design, unconscious where they are going, still keep the right path, because God directs their steps. Nor is the Providence of God less wonderful in employing the mandate of a tyrant to draw Mary from home, that the prophecy may be fulfilled. God had marked out by his prophet—as we shall afterwards see—the place where he determined that his Son should be born. If Mary had not been constrained to do otherwise, she would have chosen to bring forth her child at home. Augustus orders a registration to take place in Judea, and each person to give his name, that they may afterwards pay an annual tax, which they were formerly accustomed to pay to God. Thus an ungodly man takes forcible possession of that which God was accustomed to demand from his people. It was, in effect, reducing the Jews to entire subjection, and forbidding them to be thenceforth reckoned as the people of God.”

From time to time the Lord will lift the veil in our lives and allow us to see a glimpse of the beauty of Providence. His plans are definite, precise, and indefinable, I can rest in His plans and promises. Does that mean I do nothing? Ask Joseph. He still had plenty to do, he was just covered by the providential plans of God.

MY SPIRIT REJOICES

December 4, 2014

Luke 1:46, 47 ¶ And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

As Mary begins to sing her famous song, ‘The Magnificat’, if you listen carefully you can feel the joy pouring out of her. It’s as if every bone in her body is rejoicing; rather than trying to pent it up, she breaks out into this powerful prophetic song. Mary has just a glimpse of what actually is happening in her body and the greatness of her Son, but her spirit knows that something greater than she can fathom has just begun. How can you shut down such a surge of God’s joy and revelation? Why should you? Mary was a picture of the coming New Testament church. The joy she tasted as she carried Christ in her womb shadows the joy we have today as we carry Christ in our heart. Why should we quench that flow of joy? Here are some comments from Martin Luther on this great song.

“These words express the strong ardor and exuberant joy with which all her mind and life are inwardly exalted in the Spirit. Therefore she does not say, “I exalt the Lord”, but, “My soul doth exalt Him.” It is as if she said: “My life and all my senses float in the love and praise of God and in lofty pleasures, so that I am no longer mistress of myself; I am exalted, more than I exalt myself, to Praise the Lord.” This is the experience of those who are saturated with the divine sweetness and Spirit; They cannot find words to utter what they feel. For to praise the Lord is not a work of man; it is rather a joyful suffering and the work of God alone. It cannot be taught in words but must be learned in one’s own experience. Even as David says in Psalm 34:8: “Oh taste and see that the Lord is sweet; blessed is the man that trusts in Him.” He puts tasting before seeing, because this sweetness cannot be known unless own has experienced and felt it for himself; and no one can attain to such experience unless he trusts in God with his whole heart when he is in the depths and in sore straits.”
As Luther said, ‘ this is the experience of those who are saturated with the divine sweetness and Spirit’. Just as Mary anticipated the birth of her Son with joy, we anticipate the coming joys of His Christmas visitations and His soon return for His church.

FULLNESS OF TIME

December 3, 2014

Gal. 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

In the fullness of time, God sent His Son. He sent His Son for redemption. We were all slaves of sin, Christ came in the fullness of time to redeem or purchase us from sin. We are His purchased possession. He also came to adopt us into His family. We are not only no longer slaves,we have become sons. We are children of God by faith in Christ. Fullness also speaks to us about the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This is what we were purchased for, so that we can partake of God through the person of the Holy Spirit. Fullness also speaks to us about inheritance. We have become heirs of God through faith. This is what Christmas is, it is about the fullness of time and the blessing that was purchased for us. Here are some thoughts from the JFB Commentary.

“God does nothing prematurely, but, foreseeing the end from the beginning, waits till all is ripe for the execution of His purpose. Had Christ come directly after the fall, the enormity and deadly fruits of sin would not have been realized fully by man, so as to feel his desperate state and need of a Savior. Sin was fully developed. Man’s inability to save himself by obedience to the law, whether that of Moses, or that of conscience, was completely manifested; all the prophecies of various ages found their common center in this particular time: and Providence, by various arrangements in the social and political, as well as the moral world, had fully prepared the way for the coming Redeemer. God often permits physical evil long before he teaches the remedy.”

Could it be that we are coming into another one of those ‘fullness of time’ moments in history? Could it be the darkness has run its course and the time of the harvest of redemption has come? The Spirit of sonship that resides in every believer is crying out that His Second Coming is upon us. As we celebrate Christmas, we are waiting in joyful anticipation of His second Advent.

ANOINTING

December 2, 2014

“Spices for anointing oil.” —Exodus 35:8

When I think of the anointing in the Old Testament I think of David. The anointing came upon him when he was just a boy. He was called to the house where Samuel was waiting for him with a flask of oil. The oil was poured on his head and the anointing rushed upon him; from that day David stepped into a supernatural world.
Think about it, a young boy defeats a champion warrior with a sling, he repeatedly conquered the Philistine army, once killing one hundred men by himself. He eluded Saul’s army for years in the wilderness until he became king. He started preparations for the temple, instituted twenty four hour worship, wrote hundreds of songs, many of which are still being sung today. David was anointed with the Spirit for his work. When David fell into sin he had one request in his prayer of repentance, ‘Lord, don’t take your Holy Spirit from me’. David knew everything about his life was dependent on the Holy Spirit. Charles Spurgeon knew the importance of the Spirit, here are some of his thoughts.

“Much use was made of this anointing oil under the law, and that which it represents is of primary importance under the gospel. The Holy Spirit, who anoints us for all holy service, is indispensable to us if we would serve the Lord acceptably. Without His aid our religious services are but a vain oblation, and our inward experience is a dead thing. Whenever our ministry is without unction, what miserable stuff it becomes! nor are the prayers, praises, meditations, and efforts of private Christians one jot superior. A holy anointing is the soul and life of piety, its absence the most grievous of all calamities. To go before the Lord without anointing is as though some common Levite had thrust himself into the priest’s office—his ministrations would rather have been sins than services. May we never venture upon hallowed exercises without sacred anointings.”

How can you describe the anointing? It is trying to describe the indescribable. Two people can sing the same song and the difference is as far as east is from the west. One can be an incredibly talented singer the other just average. The average singer becomes a tool in God’s hand by the anointing. Talent has zero determination with the anointing. The same in any field of service; it’s not by might, nor by power or ability, it is by the Spirit of the Lord His work is done.

LIGHT TO THEM THAT SIT IN DARKNESS

December 1, 2014

MERRY MONDAY – BY PARRIS BAILEY
“To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:79

It’s hard for an unbeliever to admit he is sitting in darkness. Jesus even said ” because you say you can see, you are blind”. Elliot said “it’s like the sunrise lighting up the path of those who had sat all night long in the dark ravine, and whose feet were now guided into “the way of peace”. I love the word being a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. It keeps me from falling into the ditch. He gives us the ability to discern the darkness from the light.
Spurgeon describes our frame of mind without Christ. “The gloom is thick and dense; not sun, nor moon, nor star appeareth, and there can be no light to illumine the understanding, the affections, the conscience. Man has no power to get light. He may strike the damp match of reason, but it will not yield him a clear flame. The candle of superstition, with its tiny glare, will but expose the darkness in which he is wrapped. Rise, morning star! Come, Jesus, come! Thou art the sun of righteousness, and healing is beneath thy wings. Without Christ there is no light of true spiritual knowledge, no light of true spiritual enjoyment, no light in which the brightness of truth can be seen, or the warmth of fellowship proved. The soul, like the men of Napthali, sits in darkness, and seeth no light.”
Psalm 119 is filled with delighting with Gods word. When we are hit with darkness, doubt and destruction, Christ can bring illumination. I pray you can find a quiet place to brood over his word. The more you read the more he will pierce asunder your soul and spirit and discern your thoughts and intent. He will expose the darkness by his powerful light!
Spurgeon again speaks to the faint at heart . “Are any of you at this time bowing down under the shadow of death? Has hell gaped wide, and opened her jaws for you? Have you in your despair made a league with death, and a covenant with hell? Thus saith the Lord, “Your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand;” for the Lord has come forth, and visited you in the person of his dear Son to deliver the captive.”
Open his word this morning and ask him to shine his grace upon you. He will guide your feet unto the way of peace. He has taken away your judgements and has come to shed his love upon you. The gospel is always good news!


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