LIVE DEAD

September 10, 2014

LIVE DEAD

Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I remember, years ago, going to a drive in movie to see a showing of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. That was the first time I had ever heard of zombies, you know, those walking around dead people. I often think about that stupid flick and what an impression it made on me. I don’t remember many of the other films I saw in those days but this one stuck with me. This was the original dead men walking. Really, this is a great picture of our Christian life. Paul said we were crucified, publicly executed, with Christ; nevertheless we live. Just as our dying was public, our living for Christ is very public too. We are literally walking dead men, dead to the world but alive in Christ. This is an excerpt from a powerful book called LIVING DEAD by Dick Brogdin & Mark Renfroe.

“In one sense, Live Dead is timeless and universal. It is the crucified life, the “I die daily” of Paul, the death to self that unbroken generations of Christ followers from all cultures have faithfully lived. All who bear the name of Jesus are called to put His passions and priorities above their own needs and comforts. We all are to live dead.
In another sense, Live Dead is a very intentional effort to preach the gospel of the Kingdom among every nation that the end may come (Matthew 24:14). Following the 1800s, the great century of Christian mission, came the realization that our world is not getting better, and that peace and justice cannot be ultimately realized by the efforts of man—including redeemed man. A longing, a desperation for Christ to return, filled the hearts of believers in Jesus as the twentieth century dawned. Desperate for Jesus to come back, understanding that His return was linked to the gospel being preached to every people (to every ethnolinguistic group), aware that this could not be done in their own power, believers from around the world got on their knees and pleaded for for power from on high.”

What a great picture of the Christian life. We are separated from this world, dead to this world, that we can testify to this generation about Jesus Christ. It all starts the day you are born again, suddenly you are not able to fit in with the people and behavior that was so natural before. You have changed and as far as the old friends are concerned, you are dead. You are dead to them but more alive than you have ever been. Welcome to the Life of the Living Dead. Learning how to Live Dead will consume the rest of your days.

MASTER OF THE BREAK THROUGH

September 9, 2014

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then bestir yourselves, for then has the Lord gone out before you to smite the army of the Philistines.”

(2 Samuel 5:24 AMP)

Have you ever been backed up against the wall? Sometimes life takes unexpected turns and you find yourself questioning and turning over ever rock possible to find the answer. Sometimes we get dealt a blow that levels us. The Apostle James told us to “count it all joy” when these things happen to us. When this happens we need to get off the “busy wheel” and allow Him to speak. I have good news to tell you! THE LORD GOES BEFORE US AND HAS PREPARED THE WAY! David always seem to find himself in a pickle, I think that’s why the Psalms speak to us because he is always begging God to HELP, DELIVER OR DO WHATEVER IT TAKES! On one of these occasions God is telling David to wait until he hears a sound in the mulberry trees and then and only then attack. In other words, God will go before us and get it sorted.

Clark said, ‘Who believe that God see all things and is everywhere? Who supposes that he concerns himself with the affairs of his creatures? Who acknowledges him in all his ways? Who puts not his own wisdom, prudence, and strength,in the place of God Almighty? Reader, hast thou faith in God? Then exercise it, cultivate it, and thou mayest remove mountains.” Yes, the God of the Breakthrough breaks through as if it were a dam breaking.

Interpreter’s Bible puts it this way; “The tragedy of the kingdom of God on earth is that half the time we fail to discern that The Lord has gone out before us. When God has already gone out, who are we to lag behind? The ultimate factor in strategy is not the pre pondering of hindering forces in any given direction, but “where is God, what direction has he taken”? Over and over again in human history there has been the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees. So it was in the days of the early church, when suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind”. (Acts 2:2) So it was at the time of the reformation so it is today. God has obviously gone out before us toward a deepening of vital spiritual integrity within the church.

Jesus asked us if discern the times of this age. When the Holy Ghost wind stirs, God speaks and then we must act. God is speaking to someone that feels all alone and surrounded by bad news and hopelessness. The Master of Breakthrough has gone before you and is marching above the circumstances and will bring a mighty deliverance.

HE LOVES, HE LOOKS, HE TOUCHES

September 8, 2014

Mark 1:41 ¶ Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

Have you been touched by God? No really! If you have, there would be some distinct changes in your life. He came to destroy the works of the devil. Have the works of the devil been destroyed in your life? What’s that? You don’t believe in a personal devil. Well, do you believe in a personal Lord? Is He real to you? Is He real to you today?
First of all, has the power of sin been broken in your life? I know no one is perfect but I am talking about an habitual lifestyle of sin. Has that been broken? The touch of God breaks the power of sin and introduces you to life. Just like the leper in today’s verse, there is power in every touch of God. Here are some thoughts from Charles Spurgeon.

“In reading the narrative in which our morning’s text occurs, it is worthy of devout notice that Jesus touched the leper. This unclean person had broken through the regulations of the ceremonial law and pressed into the house, but Jesus so far from chiding him broke through the law himself in order to meet him. He made an interchange with the leper, for while he cleansed him, he contracted by that touch a Levitical defilement. Even so Jesus Christ was made sin for us, although in himself he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. O that poor sinners would go to Jesus, believing in the power of his blessed substitutionary work, and they would soon learn the power of his gracious touch. That hand which multiplied the loaves, which saved sinking Peter, which upholds afflicted saints, which crowns believers, that same hand will touch every seeking sinner, and in a moment make him clean. The love of Jesus is the source of salvation. He loves, he looks, he touches us, WE LIVE.”

It’s in His touch that we first begin to experience His love. Its the power of His acceptance and love that brings us forgiveness and even more than forgiveness. His gracious touch brings us from death into life. The very life of God, the new birth actually makes us into a new kind person. Old things have passed away, new life has come. It all starts with a simple touch, the incredible touch of God’s love.

ANOTHER KIND OF JOY

September 7, 2014

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

The sure sign of someone’s conversion is their heart. You can mask your actions but changing the heart is not something that can be faked. That is the dilemma man finds himself in. His conscience may tell him what is right but his will is ensnared in sin and seems to always fall short.

The sure litmus test of where our heart stands is our joy. Conversion touches this part of us and turns the focus of our joy from earthly things to spiritual things. A born again man can actually delight in the Lord. The Lord Himself becomes the source and the focus of our joy. Here is how Andrew Murray sees it.

“God is an ever-flowing fountain out of which streams the love and desire to make His creatures partakers of all the holiness and the glory there is in Himself. This desire for the salvation of souls is indeed God’s perfect will, His highest glory. He shares this with His children who are prepared to yield themselves to Him. In this we are the likeness and image of God: to have a heart in which His love takes complete possession and leads us to find our highest joy in loving as He does. Delight yourself in the Lord, and in His life of love, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Count upon it that your desire, rising up to heaven, will be answered. If we delight in what God delights in, we may be sure that God inspires our prayers and they will be answered. Then our prayer becomes, “Your desire, my Father, is mine. Your holy will of love is my will, too.”

I never thought in a million years that I would find happiness and true joy in spiritual endeavors. I understood the enjoyment of sports or pleasure found in the more carnal, worldly pursuits; but joy in God? That was not on my radar. I thought the very definition of religion was sacrificing joy for some sort of austere God. Joy was never part of that equation.

What does it take to change all of that? One moment in His presence. The Lord is the very personification of joy. There is never sadness on Him or around Him. Joy is emanating from His very being. So get ready for a life change, or even better; get ready for a heart change. Don’t be surprised when today’s verse becomes your story.

TRUE LOVE

September 6, 2014

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

We were made for love. Not just any kind of love, we were created for supernatural love. You see, that is the uniqueness of being human, we are created in God’s image. Even in our fallen state our heart still hungers for the love of God. Nothing less than that can cure us, nothing less can satisfy the longing in our souls. One of the tragedies of our fallen state is being blinded. We are blind to God and we are especially blind to His love for us. As Jesus said, “Unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Upon our awakening we taste His love for the first time. We are stunned by love by our first glimpse of the cross, we are captured by love when the Holy Spirt falls on us, Here is Charles Spurgeon on awakening to God’s love.

“True love to Christ is in every case the Holy Spirit’s work, and must be wrought in the heart by Him. He is the efficient cause of it; but the logical reason why we love Jesus lies in Himself. Why do we love Jesus? Because He first loved us. Why do we love Jesus? Because He “gave Himself for us.” We have life through His death; we have peace through His blood. Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor. Why do we love Jesus? Because of the excellency of His person. We are filled with a sense of His beauty! an admiration of His charms! a consciousness of His infinite perfection! His greatness, goodness, and loveliness, in one resplendent ray, combine to enchant the soul till it is so ravished that it exclaims, “Yea, He is altogether lovely.” Blessed love this—a love which binds the heart with chains more soft than silk, and yet more firm than adamant!”

So if you heart seems a little cold and love seems a million miles away, turn your heart toward Christ. As Jonathan Edwards often said, “Put yourself in the way of spiritual allurement”. How can I do that? Easy, read the gospels again for the first time. If you are baptized in the Spirit, pray in your heavenly language (a lot). Put on worship music in your car, at home, and at work if possible. That is putting yourself in the place of allurement and as you do God’s love will fall on you in a whole new dimension.

BE STILL

September 5, 2014

Psa. 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

Sometimes it’s heard to see the difference between passion or zeal and just plain striving in the flesh. Human will and effort alone can never accomplish the plans and purposes of God. I know this far too well from experience. In the early days of my ministry I would observe other successful churches and ministries and try to replicate what they had done. The underlying premise was that church growth was no different than building a business. All it took was a good plan, talented people, and hard work. Strike one, strike two, and strike three. What it takes is God’s plan, humble people with the touch of God, and the favor of God. These are about as opposite from one another as possible. This is why today’s scripture is so important. It is in waiting on the Lord and being still that we come to a place of dependency on God. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke.

“Be still, and know that I am God. Cease from your provocations of the Divine justice; cease from murmuring against the dispensations of his providence; cease from your labour for a season, that ye may deeply reflect on the severity and goodness of God-severity to those who are brought down and destroyed; goodness to you who are raised up and exalted: — cease from sin and rebellion against your God; let that disgrace you no more, that we may no more be brought into distress and desolation. Know that I am God. Understand that I am the Fountain of power, wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth. I will be exalted among the heathen. By the dispensation of punishments, the heathen shall know me to be the God of justice; by the publication of my Gospel among them, they shall know me to be the God of goodness. I will be exalted in the earth. I will have my salvation proclaimed in every nation, among every people, and in every tongue.”

Another way of saying this is to stop doing and start receiving. At the end of the day the difference to these two approaches are as far as the east is from the west. One focuses on man; his ideas, talents, and work ethic. The other focuses on God; His wisdom, His grace, and His power. Maybe it’s time to be still, know that He is God. Then, He will be exalted rather than a man or a system.

THE SOON RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST

September 4, 2014

Luke 21:27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Just when it seems like the world is about as goofed up as possible it suddenly deteriorates to new levels. The Lord told us in no uncertain terms how difficult the last days would be. I guess reading about it in the Bible and seeing it come to pass are quite different things. We see the jihadists emboldened to the point where they are beheading American news reporters, killing children who are born in Christian families, and blatantly attacking the land of Israel. At the same time the American church has fallen asleep consumed with thoughts of their best life now rather than having an eternal perspective. In an atmosphere like that the words from the eighteenth century preacher, Jonathan Edwards, come like a breath of fresh air.
“But above all, the time of Christ’s last coming, is the time of the consummation of the church’s marriage with the Lamb, and the time of the complete and most perfect joy of the wedding. In that resurrection morning, when the Sun of Righteousness shall appear in our heavens, shining in all his brightness and glory, he will come forth as a bridegroom; he shall come in the glory of his Father, with all his holy angels. And at that glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ, shall the whole elect church, complete as to every individual member and each member with the whole man, both body and soul, and both in perfect glory, ascend up to meet the Lord in the air, to be thenceforth forever with the Lord. That will be a joyful meeting of this glorious bridegroom and bride indeed. Then the bridegroom will appear in all his glory without any veil: and then the saints shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and at the right hand of their Redeemer; and then the church will appear as the bride, the Lamb’s wife. ‘Tis the state of the church after the resurrection, that is spoken of, Revelation 21:2”
Edwards spoke of the return of Christ as a real event. The truth is that it was real to him and more important than anything this life could offer. He had tasted real love, the eternal love of God, and that had set his hope on eternity. The taste of true love will change your perspective of life. It will turn your heart toward heaven and put an expectancy of that great day in your soul.

ULTIMATE INTIMACY

September 3, 2014

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband.”  Revelation 21:9

For a bride and groom, the wedding day is everything. As the great day draws near, the rest of their life seems to be secondary, their new life is about to begin. The happy couple has great expectations, expectations of a new kind of life; the kind of life that they make movies about. They plan the wedding, the reception, and of course the honeymoon. The honeymoon will mark the beginning of this brand new kind of life.

Paul taught us that this marriage relationship was a picture, it is a picture of a much higher kind of relationship. It is a picture of God’s plan of intimacy between Christ and the church. Just as a young child has no concept of marital joy (are you kidding, what could bring more joy than ice cream); we have no way of imagining a greater joy than the one experienced by young lovers caught up in marital bliss. There is no way to understand the joys of the other world except from the foretaste we receive in the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jonathan Edwards wrote powerfully about spiritual joy that flows from intimacy with God. Check this out.

“Come hither; I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” Then will come the time, when Christ will sweetly invite his spouse to enter in with him into the palace of his glory, which he had been preparing for her from the foundation of the world, and shall as it were take her by the hand, and lead her in with him: and this glorious bridegroom and bride shall with all their shining ornaments, ascend up together into the heaven of heaven; the whole multitude of glorious angels waiting upon them: and this Son and daughter of God shall, in their united glory and joy, present themselves together before the Father; when Christ shall say, “Here am I, and the children which thou has given me”: and they both shall in that relation and union, together receive the Father’s blessing; and shall thenceforward rejoice together, in consummate, uninterrupted, immutable, and everlasting glory, in the love and embraces of each other, and joint enjoyment of the love of the Father.”

Yep, there is a joy greater than ice cream. There is also a greater love than the love between two lovers. Taste and see for yourselves. This joy is reserved for the thirsty.

WORSHIP NEVER STOPS

September 2, 2014

And these are the singers … they were employed in that work day and night.

1 Chronicles 9:33

There must have been a reason The Lord called David a man after His own heart. How exactly was He a man after The Lord’s heart? The answer is in worship. That’s what made David stand out among all the prophets, priests, and kings of the Old Testament. David was a worshipper of a whole different caliber than had ever been seen. David was anointed to worship. His worship had a supernatural dimension to it different from anyone before him. Three thousand years have come and gone but David’s songs are just as fresh as the day that he penned them. They are still being sung today because they were born in God’s presence. When you begin to sing the songs of David you can still be caught up in the presence of the Lord. David initiated continuous worship in his tabernacle. His worship was a type of the New Testament we enjoy today because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. Here is something Spurgeon said about this continuous worship.

“Well was it so ordered in the temple that the sacred chant never ceased: for evermore did the singers praise the Lord, whose mercy endureth for ever. As mercy did not cease to rule either by day or by night, so neither did music hush its holy ministry. My heart, there is a lesson sweetly taught to thee in the ceaseless song of Zion’s temple, thou too art a constant debtor, and see thou to it that thy gratitude, like charity, never faileth. God’s praise is constant in heaven, which is to be thy final dwelling-place, learn thou to practice the eternal hallelujah. Around the earth as the sun scatters his light, his beams awaken grateful believers to tune their morning hymn, so that by the priesthood of the saints perpetual praise is kept up at all hours, they swathe our globe in a mantle of thanksgiving, and girdle it with a golden belt of song.”

 

What caused David to insist upon twenty four hour worship in the Tabernacle of David? Why was this so important to him? David had experienced the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit upon his life since his youth. The greatness of God’s glory, His ceaseless mercy, His unsearchable goodness all were demanding worship from David’s perspective. With this great God displayed before him what else could he do, he had to worship.

For those of us who have tasted the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we find ourselves in the same position as David. We have to worship. We must respond to His ceaseless love with a lifestyle of worship. Just a few songs at church on Sunday will never do for me, I have tasted His greatness and worship is our only option. David got it. He saw the greatness of God, that’s why it was said He had a heart after God’s own heart. The Lord gets it. He knows His own greatness, He also knows the benefits that come to His sons and daughters when they step into this new way of life.

UNDYING LOVE

September 1, 2014

The Story of Hosea and Gomer

MERRY MONDAY: BY PARRIS BAILEY-

It’s hard to read the book of Hosea and not be moved at Hosea’s love toward His Gomer. He was instructed to take “a wife from the harlots”. What amazes me about Hosea is that he loved her. He didn’t question God as to why this is happening to him but was told “This is what Israel has been to God.” Sometimes our tragedy opens a door to a new spiritual truth. This is how his grief became his gospel. Hosea saw his suffering as a symbol of God’s redemptive grace-that one day Christ would come redeem the harlots of the world.

When I think about my life I realize that God allures all of us to come to him. In Hosea it says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope and she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi and will no longer call Me Baali. Hosea went and bought her back from slavery when her harlotry and idolatry had gotten her there. I have to ask myself how many times does God woo the unbeliever and even me when I get off the track. He takes us out of the valley of trouble and places us into the door of hope.  If we look around this vast world, when I look up at the stars at night, or His vast oceans, rivers and lakes and see the abundance of life. All these things point to a redeeming God that never stops seeking us. We never even had the ability to save ourself. Gomer’s name meant completion. She symbolized the filling up of Israel’s sin and God was saying “you have sowed to the wind and will reap the whirlwind”.  Some of you reading this might have walked close to the Lord at one time, but something happened; you allowed other things to come between you and him. It seemed that you took your eyes off of him for only a moment, but that moment turned into an hour, and the hour into days, weeks, months, perhaps even years. You used to hear his voice calling you back, but now all you hear is silence. You confess your sins, but you feel no release and you worry that somehow you’ve wandered so far away, or done something so terribly wrong. No matter what you might have done, no matter how long it’s been since you walked with the Lord, no matter how far you may have wandered from His presence, no matter what you may have said to Him in your anger, frustration, or disappointment, the truth is that God has never stopped loving you, and he will never give up on you. It’s time to come home.


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