ACCESS

May 28, 2016

HEB. 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 

When Jesus was on earth not everyone recognized who He was. There He was, Creator of all things, walking amongst them an they didn’t have a clue. Haven’t you ever wondered about that? You probably came to the conclusion, ‘that wouldn’t be me, I would have recognized Him’. Oh really! Think about this, Jesus, the man, is still alive and still has a vital ministry. He is at the Father’s right hand representing fallen man as a perfect man. Have you acknowledged His heavenly ministry. Knowing Christ in this way is the only way to secure that life as more than a conqueror right here right now. Don’t be that clueless one, the one who doesn’t even notice His current ministry designed to be a blessing to you. Here are some comments from Charles Spurgeon on today’s blog. 

“…because He abideth for ever, because there is never a single moment in which His priestly action, His watchful care of us, His loving sympathy and succour, His working in us in the power of our endless life, is not in full operation. Therefore He can save completely, that is, there need never be a moment in which the experience of His saving power is intermitted, in which the salvation He has wrought does not save. To confirm this, it is added, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. Without ceasing there streams forth from Him to the Father the prayer of His love for every one and every need. “of those that belong to Him; His very person and presence is that prayer, so closely and so inseparably is He identified with those He calls His brethren. And without ceasing there streams forth to Him from the Father the answer of His good pleasure, and the power of the Holy Spirit, bearing that answer.”

Seeing this is really incredible; Jesus represents me before the Father. By faith I access this place, after all I am seated together in heavenly places with Christ. This is what was purchased for me at the cross, access into the holiest of all. I have this access to life in the Father’s presence in Christ. This is where I find power, healing, provision, protection, and life itself. 

THE ONLY WAY

May 27, 2016

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 14:6

It was a hot, August evening in 1973 and there I was, wandering aimlessly down Bourbon Street looking for who knows what. I found myself in an argument with some cult member trying to recruit converts and donations from the drunken crowd. What a joke, stoned and drunk with a backdrop of bars and strip clubs and I was arguing about the Bible. No wonder God sits in the heavens and laughs. It was in that foolish argument that the Spirit of the Lord began to speak to me. I suddenly found myself quoting a long forgotten Bible verse learned in Sunday School many years before, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Obviously this verse coming out of my own mouth was God’s word to me. Through the fog of rebellion, booze, and pot I suddenly began to see a ray of light. There was salvation offered to me through Christ alone, there was no other way. Here are some powerful words from Martin Luther, pay close attention. 
“What does it mean to come to the Father? It means nothing else but to come from death to life, from sin and condemnation to innocence and godliness, from distress and sorrow to eternal joy and blessedness. Christ is saying, “No one should try to come to the Father through a different way than me. I alone am the way and the truth and the life.” Christ clearly rules out and powerfully disproves all teaching that salvation can be obtained by works. He completely denies that we can get to heaven by any other way. For Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no other way. Salvation can be obtained only by a faith that clings to Christ. No work of ours—or of any other person or saint—can have this same honor….Though everyone else may abandon me and leave me lying in ruins, I will still have an eternal treasure that can never fail me. This treasure isn’t the result of my own works or efforts. The treasure is Christ—the way, the truth, and the life.”
Wow! I love that, “Salvation can be obtained by faith that clings to Christ”. So let’s get started, start clinging. Maybe you too have been wandering in that fog of unbelief, look to Jesus, He is the only way out. 

SECRETARY OF THY PRAISE

May 26, 2016

Ps. 45:1 ¶ My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
 I recite my composition concerning the King;

 My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. 
David is the epitome of being God’s secretary. What do I mean by that? Well anything that we have that is worth saying or writing comes from the Lord. David said that his tongue was God’s pen. His writings were like heavenly dictation. That is David’s description of prophesy. We are God’s secretaries, hearing from Him and responding accordingly. Recently I was reading a book written by John Piper called SEEING BEAUTY AND SAYING BEAUTIFULLY. In it, he spoke about the poetry of George Herbert, a country pastor from the 1500’s. Here is a short blurb from that book with one of Herbert’s poems. Enjoy!
“Poetry is one of those simple tasks of God’s servant that needs to be touched by the elixir, the tincture, the stone and turned into God’s praise. Herbert believed that since God ruled all things by his sacred providence, everything revealed God. Everything spoke of God. The role of the poet is to be God’s echo. Or God’s secretary. To me, Herbert’s is one of the best descriptions of the Christian poet:

 “Secretarie of thy praise.”
O Sacred Providence, who from end to end

Strongly and sweetly movest! shall I write,

And not of thee, through whom my fingers bend

To hold my quill? shall they not do thee right?

Of all the creatures both in sea and land

Only to Man thou hast made known thy wayes,

And put the penne alone into his hand,

And made him Secretarie of thy praise.

Why do I languish thus, drooping and dull,

As if I were all earth?

O give me quicknesse,

that I may with mirth

Praise thee brim-full!”
I love this poem. What a great description of our lives, secretaries of His praise. We observe and listen and record and declare our observations. What have you observed recently worthy of His praise? Could it be a newborn hawk trying out his wings or maybe a young deer scampering through the woods? Or maybe a verse of scripture bursting with revelation light or the fresh touch of God while waiting in His presence. Once you have observed the greatness and beauty of our God you too will “praise Him brimful”. No other job could ever come close to the highest of all callings, “SECRETARY OF HIS PRAISE”. 

REALITY FROM THE OTHER SIDE

May 25, 2016

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away,
Gen.5:24
You ever wonder why people (all of us) who believe in a real heaven actually act like we don’t in our behavior? What do I mean? All of our focus tends to be on living our best life now. You know; cars and sex and vacations, and houses, and sporting events. We say we believe in heaven but our focus is on the here and now. It is only a revelation of eternity, not just a belief in it, that will change all of that. Enoch is a picture of a man who walked with God. This is one of Paul’s examples of what it looks like to walk in faith. Faith opens our spiritual senses to the eternal world, the kingdom of God becomes a reality, not just a doctrinal belief. When we begin to walk with God by faith, like Enoch, our priorities change. We begin to value and love the Lord, His word, His church, and His people. Here is how Martin Luther described this back in the 1500’s. 
“Our human nature spends all of its energy pursuing the fleeting things of this world but doesn’t look forward to the joys of eternal life. People who are devoted to seeking worldly pleasures are worthy of contempt. Similarly, our own human nature, which makes us look for pleasure, is worthy of contempt. Because we are so wrapped up in the concerns of this world, we care little for the riches of eternal life. We should pay attention to this passage and keep it in our hearts. Enoch was not taken from this world by one of his devout ancestors or an angel. He was taken by God himself. This is the comfort that relieved the pain of death for the Old Testament believers. They had so little fear of death that they didn’t even call it death. Instead, they referred to it as mere sleep from which they would awaken into eternal life. For believers, death is not death but simply sleep. When death no longer brings dread and fear— when it no longer has sting and power—it can no longer be called death.”
This is what Jesus was describing when He spoke of God seeking worshippers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. The Greek word for truth in the New Testament is ALEITHEIA. It means the reality underlying the basis of something. In our words, making it real. All it takes is a taste of eternity through the person of the Holy Spirit and you too will walk with God like Enoch. 

THE GREAT WONDER WORKER

May 24, 2016

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS –

Psalm 77:10 “I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High”
A few weeks ago, our church had a prayer conference and after hearing from all the wonderful speakers I decided to leave my notes and open up about my personal prayer life when it came my turn to speak. I closed my eyes and started with how I start my prayer “remembering the years the Lord has brought me through and his works from old”. I really don’t know how unbelievers make it through this world, I know except for the grace of God, I wouldn’t have been alive. For me, to be able to “paint a tapestry of grace” over my life in prayer has been my life source for over 43 years. What have you been painting these days? 
One commentary in referring to Ps. 77 used the term, “I digged into my spirit”. (John Collins) 

Adam Clark said, “My spirit made diligent search.” The verb חפשׂ, chaphas, signifies such an investigation as a man makes who is obliged to strip himself in order to do it; or, to lift up coverings, to search fold by fold, or in our own phrase, to leave no stone unturned. So how has your prayer life been of late? I love to rehearse the works of God that he has done over me throughout my life. Someone would have to be blind, deaf, dumb, and downright stupid to not admit the hand of God over us. As Jesus said, ‘the blind lead the blind’. 
I pray that you are not just going through the motions of life, but realizing that he is “coloring your world with his love”. I love to say, create a grid recalling the acts of God over you life. Thomas Adams says, To concentrate on ” Not the moments, nor the hours, nor days of a few short afflictions, that his left hand hath dealt to me: but the “years of his right hand;” those long, large, and boundless mercies wherewith he hath comforted me.” I pray you remain quite aware of the grace of God upon your life. 
He paints the sky with his wonders, he walks upon the seas and he embraces you as you journey through life. I pray as your close your eyes in prayer, you see the “other world”. 

LIT UP

May 23, 2016

John 5:35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. 

All of us know that we are all ultimately searching for something real. That’s the way we are all wired. It’s as if we are blind, groping our way through life looking for some light. The world is a dark place becoming darker by the day. That’s exactly how it was when John the Baptist appeared on the scene. Like Jesus said, John was a burning and shining light. His passion for God and spiritual revelation made him appear as a torch in the midst of a dark culture. The light shining out from him prepared the way for the coming of the Lord. This is what Paul meant when he said we appear to shine as lights in the world. Jonathan Edwards spoke about this verse when talking about the role of ministers in colonial America.
“True piety is nothing remaining only in the head, or consisting in any speculative knowledge or opinions, or outward morality or forms of religion; it reaches the heart, is chiefly seated there, and burns there. There is a holy ardor in everything that belongs to true grace. True faith is an ardent thing, and so is true repentance; there is a holy power and ardor in true spiritual comfort and joy; yea even in true Christian humility, submission and meekness. The reason is that divine love or charity is the sum of all true grace, which is a holy flame enkindled in the soul. ‘Tis by this therefore especially, that a minister of the gospel is a “burning light”; a minister that is so, has his soul enkindled with the heavenly flame; his heart burns with love to Christ, and fervent desires of the advancement of his kingdom and glory; and also with ardent love to the souls of men, and desires for their salvation.”
Actually, it was these very lights that brought the awakening that culminated in one nation under God. Could it be that as our nation faces a spiritual darkness that threatens our existence as America that the answer for our dilemma is the same? I believe it is. Our lives today must be lights in the midst of moral darkness. 

What could it mean to burn and shine? Burning was Jesus’ description of John’s passion for the Lord. He was on fire for God, the anointing that came on him in his mother’s womb was like a flame of love burning for his God. This flame was contagious and erupted into an awakening characterized by a passion for God. John also shone with revelation light. He saw Christ like no one else ever had and his preaching was like a burning fire of revelation. This is exactly where we are today. We are in need of a generation of Christians and ministers lit up, burning and shining for the Lord. 

NEW HEART

May 22, 2016

2Cor. 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 

Has your heart ever wandered during the preaching at church? How about during private prayer or even Bible reading? What is that? Do you ever long to have a passion for God and His word? Remember the days when you hung on every word and expectancy was part of your daily life? This problem has been around from the beginning. Humans, without the sway of grace, deteriorate quickly into a backslidden bog. There is good news in reference to this, the Lord is faithful to send times of refreshing to His people. This refreshing awakens our first love; everything takes on a new passion. The worship, the preaching; even prayer and Bible study are occasions of great joy. Here is a short testimony from Hannah Heaton, a Connecticut farm woman effected by the ministry of George Whitefield. 

“Hearing Whitefield preach began a conversion ordeal for Hannah Heaton, too, a farm woman of North Haven, Connecticut. Whitefield delivered “preaching as I never heard before,” she “wrote, as he explicated the marks of an unconverted person. Did the audience members’ minds ever wander to worldly business as they sat through long church services? Did they struggle to devote even one day exclusively to the Lord? “How could you endure to be in heaven with him forever where nothing but praises are?” he asked. Heaton, stricken with guilt, knew that her attention often drifted during Sunday meetings. “I began to think my nature must be changed but how to attain it I knew not,” she wrote. She struggled for another eight months to discover the way to salvation. Finally, she received a brilliant vision of Christ, “a lovely God man with his arms open ready to receive me.” Full of praise and thanksgiving, she knew that Christ would pardon her sins.”
Christ has revealed Himself to His people for thousands of years. Do you think He is about to stop now? Absolutely not!!!! Just as He revealed Himself to Hannah Heaton hundreds of years ago He is still here, revealing Himself to us, in us, and through us. If you are honest with yourself, maybe you too feel a little disinterested and unenthused about heavenly things. If so, get in the fire. Get to a place, a church, where the fire is burning. You need more than a few practical thoughts about being a better person, you may need a brand new heart. 

HEART SICK

May 21, 2016

Psa. 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
 Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 
Unconverted preachers were a huge problem at the time of the Great Awakening. It took years of college to be qualified or recognized as a minister in those days. Sadly, many of the ministers were just educated heathen. Obviously, it takes more than education or information for true conversion to take place, a man’s soul has to be awakened to the grace of God. When George Whitefield began to address the problem of unconverted ministers it released a firestorm that caused great division in the Great Awakening. Many awakened ministers found themselves in the position of agreeing with Whitefield yet defending the unconverted preachers; it got quite messy. Thankfully, the Lord began to raise up a new generation of born again pastors and evangelists. Here is a short glimpse of one of their stories as told by Thomas Kidd. 
“Daniel Rogers had grown up in a minister’s family in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and he was under consideration for a ministerial position at Boston’s New North Church when Whitefield arrived. A 1725 Harvard graduate, Rogers knew Christian doctrine and ethics, but had never experienced the new birth. Perhaps Whitefield could help him break through, he thought, and so he joined the evangelist’s traveling cohort. The day before Nathan Cole heard Whitefield preach, Rogers wrote: “I am heart sick of the “kingdom of sin and Satan, and want the Kingdom of God within me in righteousness peace etc. I hunger, I thirst. Lord Jesus, let me be filled, Lord help me to wait upon thee, to believe in thee, to hope in, rely upon thy promise. I find myself a lost damned creature without thee . . . I hunger I thirst after an experimental knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Rogers received such “experimental knowledge” as they approached New York City. “It pleased God of his free and sovereign grace to come into my poor soul with power and so to fill me with peace,” Rogers wrote, “yea with such joy in the Holy Ghost as I never experienced before. I could not forbear smiling nay laughing for joy and gladness of heart.”
Today, we have a similar problem with unconverted “Christians”. Many have been raised in church, prayed “the prayer”, but have little or no knowledge of God Himself. What is the solution? It’s the same one Jesus offered when He spoke to the unconverted minister or church attender; “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN”. 

HEART WOUND

May 20, 2016

Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” 

The hand of the Lord upon a man of God can bring sudden awareness of sin in those he ministers to. In today’s scripture Peter suddenly found himself naked before the Lord, his sins were exposed, his new life was about to begin. The Lord raised up a young man by the name of George Whitefield back in the days of Colonial America. The power of God was upon him, as he preached, the hearers would come under conviction of their sinfulness. A Connecticut farmer by the name of Nathan Cole recorded his experience with the hearing of George Whitefield. Here is an excerpt from Thomas Kidd’s book, George Whitefield America’s Spiritual Founding Father, where Kidd shares about Nathan Cole’s encounter.   
“’He looked almost angelical; a young, slim, slender youth before some thousands of people with a bold undaunted countenance, and my hearing how God was with him everywhere as he came along it solemnized my mind; and put me into a trembling fear before he began to preach; for he looked as if he was clothed with authority from the great God; and a sweet solemn solemnity sat upon his brow. And my hearing him preach, gave me a heart wound; by God’s blessing: my old foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me.’

This was only the beginning of Cole’s conversion, not the end. For two years more he wrestled with God, especially concerning divine election and unmerited grace. From Whitefield, he understood these doctrines to be essential to authentic Christianity. Finally accepting them, he experienced conversion and assurance of forgiveness. For decades Cole was a key leader in Kensington’s radical evangelical movement, separating from his Congregational church and eventually becoming a Baptist.”
There was obviously that unexplainable ‘something’ on the young George Whitefield. His words carried conviction, authority, and hope. He was raised up by God as a vessel to usher a generation into the kingdom of God. This was not just any generation, this was the first generation of Americans. Our country has strayed far from her moorings in my lifetime. Who would have thought that relationships between people of the opposite sex would be called holy matrimony, that men who ‘think’ they are really a woman trapped in a man’s body can use the girl’s restroom, or that unborn children could be killed as an inconvenience. Adultery and fornication are considered normal behavior, unthinkable. 

Maybe it’s time for God to raise up a generation of young George Whitefields to shake our land once again. 

HOLY

May 19, 2016

To God’s elect … who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge
of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit,

for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.

1 PETER 1:1–2
Holiness can be a scary word. I remember as a young Christian the word holiness stirred up pictures of long dresses, women’s hair in buns, and mean preachers with a list of rules. I have to laugh because I see holiness from a whole different perspective today. Our God is holy and only holy beings can approach Him. Now I have come to know that holiness is the work of a Holy God. Only the Holy Spirit can make us holy. Paul taught about practical holiness in Rom. 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. Look carefully at Paul’s words, we can put to death those sinful tendencies in our lives by the Spirit. It is in yielding to the work of the Spirit that holiness is realized in our lives. It is not by human effort but by faith in God and yielding to the Spirit that we become holy. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray about holiness.

“Christ made Himself holy for us, that we can be made holy through Him. The important work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify God within ourselves so that we can become more like Him. Has this truth ever struck you that the most important task of the Holy Spirit is to sanctify you, so that you are able to become obedient to Jesus Christ, and to grow more and more like Him? If you do not understand this truth, the Holy Spirit cannot carry out His purifying work. If all you require is for the Holy Spirit to “make you a slightly better person,” you will not get very far. But if you recognize that the Holy Spirit means to pass on God’s holiness to you, and that the Spirit lives within you, you will start to realize that He wants to totally possess you.”
So the Holy Spirit actually makes us like the Lord. The blood of Jesus has made us clean by faith, the work of the Spirit in us makes us holy in our practical experience. This brings glory to God. 


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