“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”― Jonathan Edwards

January 18, 2017

MERRY WEDNESDAY BY PARRIS 

“Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest at home in your place! We expect our fill of good things in your house, your heavenly manse. All your salvation wonders are on display in your trophy room. Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer, Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser, Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash, of mobs in noisy riot— Far and wide they’ll come to a stop, they’ll stare in awe, in wonder. Dawn and dusk take turns calling, “Come and worship.” PS.65:2-8
Jesus spoke of going away to make a home for us. While the world turns into another day, Christians yearn for Heaven. CS Lewis said, “True Joy is the ache for something beyond this world. The Holy Spirit uses this restlessness to awaken spiritual hunger. When little moments of life ─ like the way the light falls on a summer evening ─ stir you with a deep longing that’s hard to define, don’t look to earthly pursuits to fill the void. Instead, allow the ache to push you deeper into your relationship with God. Pursue Him. Allow that longing for Him to become the hottest fire in your heart. Joy—that sharp, wonderful Stab of Longing—has a lithe, muscular lightness to it. It’s deft. It produces longing that weighs heavy on the heart, but it does so with precision and coordination…It dashes in with the agility of a hummingbird claiming its nectar from the flower, and then zips away. It pricks, then vanishes, leaving a wake of mystery and longing behind it.”

Learning to listen is a required art. Listening to the chatter of people around you, your children, your parents and the list goes on. Seeing the world through new lenses requires us to slow down and take it all in. We become of the “other world” or the “not yet but soon to be” even when surrounded by the ones we love. When Lewis talks about the hummingbird pricks then vanishes, God seems to do that to us all the day long. He comes near in so many ways to put eternity into our hearts. There is a true joy that runs deeps within us, reassuring us of a new life in another world. He changes us so that we can be seed planters imparting hope to the hopeless. The hummingbird comes to me then to you sharing its news of a GOD of wonder. 

Jonathan Edwards said it so well when he said, “God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.” 

What is imprinted upon your eyeballs? 

HEALING OF THE BLIND MAN

January 17, 2017

John 9:4,5 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind. Doesn’t that sound familiar. If something bad happens it surely must be your fault. That is exactly what Job’s friends had said to Job. All these bad things happening in your life Job, something must be wrong. If you listen carefully to what Jesus said that is not always the case. Sometimes sin is the direct cause of a sickness or problem, BUT NOT ALWAYS. In this case Jesus said this man was born blind so that the Glory of God could be clearly seen through his healing. Jesus healed this man simply to display the power of His love and the greatness of His mercy and grace. Maybe you are facing some real problems. Rather than suffocating under condemnation and guilt look to God. Maybe you too are a candidate for the Lord to show His glory. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this miracle.    
“The sinfulness of the whole race of mankind does indeed justify God in all the miseries of human life; so that those who have the least share of them must say that God is kind, and those who have the largest share must not say that he is unjust; but many are made much more miserable than others in this life who are not at all more sinful. Not but that this man was a sinner, and his parents sinners, but is was not any uncommon guilt that God had an eye to in inflicting this upon him. Note, We must take heed of judging any to be great sinners merely because they are great sufferers, lest we be found, not only persecuting those whom God has smitten, but accusing those whom he has justified, and condemning those for whom Christ died, which is daring and dangerous. That they are sometimes intended purely for the glory of God, and the manifesting of his works.”
So maybe, just maybe your suffering is about to come to an end. Is it possible that God has a plan and your problem is just another way for the Lord to show His kindness and His power in your life? Just like the blind man, His blindness gave way to the Light of the World.  

OUR SPIRITUAL WEAPONS

January 16, 2017

Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a fountain; his branches run over the wall. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and persecuted him: but his bow abode in strength. Genesis 49:22–24

This is a prophesy that was actually spoken over my life many, many years ago. Jacob was prophesying over his son Joseph, the mantle of God had been on Joseph all of his life. This word describes the life that Joseph had experienced; he had been betrayed by his brothers, persecuted by the Egyptians, lied about by the captain’s wife, and forgotten by pharaoh’s baker. What had kept Joseph throughout all of his troubles? He had been kept secure by the dreams that had fallen on him as a child. He had been set apart from his youth, cloaked in his father’s coat, and as a result experienced the blessing of God all throughout his life. Here are some insights from Adam Clarke on this powerful prophetic word. 

“Of the many typical servants of God in the Old Testament, Joseph is perhaps the most perfect. Yet while Scripture reveals no apparent flaw in his character, we know well that his was no easy pathway. When did his troubles begin? Surely with his dreams. They represent spiritual vision. In them he saw what God would do, and his own place in the divine plan. It was his dreams that started things off, for he saw what his brothers could not see. “This dreamer,” they called him, and plotted his downfall. So he was sold as a slave and put in chains of iron (Ps. 105:17–18). Yet Joseph could survive it all to become at length God’s means of fulfilling a mighty purpose for His people. He stands firm to the end who can see.”
Habakuk said that without prophetic vision the people perish. Joseph proved that scripture to be accurate. How does this word apply to us today? Obviously, the Lord has a plan for your life. Just like Joseph, God’s plans will always be opposed by God’s enemies. Our weapons are not human or fleshly but are mighty through God, our weapons are supernatural. One of our powerful weapons is prophetic vision. When you are able to see the plans of God for your life ahead of time, that vision will strengthen and sustain you even in the worst of times. 

ANGEL WATER

January 15, 2017

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
John 5:8
I love the story of the pool of Bethesda, multitudes just waiting by the pool for a miracle. Suddenly, the miracle worker Himself came walking up to the pool. “Do you want to get well?” “What kind of question is that?”, the lame man must have said to himself. Of course he wanted to get well, why else would he be lying by that pool. But did he really want to get well? Many of us like our excuses. They give us a safe place to hide. If we were made whole then we would seem vulnerable. We wouldn’t be able to hide behind some excuse to avoid our fear of living a spiritual life. It’s much safer to stay “lame”. Then came the direct word, “If you want to get well, rise, pick up your pallet and walk”. That’s what the lame man did and that’s exactly when he received his miracle. He was made whole. Charles Spurgeon spoke about the power of faith in God’s word from this passage. Check it out.
“Like many others, the impotent man had been waiting for a wonderfully to be wrought, and a sign to be given. Wearily did he watch the pool, but no angel came, or came not for him; yet, thinking it to be his only chance, he waited still, and knew not that there was One near him whose word could heal him in a moment. Many are in the same plight: they are waiting for some singular emotion, remarkable impression, or celestial vision; they wait in vain and watch for nought. Meanwhile these poor souls forget the present Saviour, who bids them look unto him and be saved. He could heal them at once, but they prefer to wait for an angel and a wonder. To trust him is the sure way to every blessing, and he is worthy of the most implicit confidence; but unbelief makes them prefer the cold porches of Bethesda to the warm bosom of his love. O that the Lord may turn his eye upon the multitudes who are in this case today; may he forgive the slights which they put upon his divine power, and call them by that sweet constraining voice, to rise from the bed of despair…”
Just as Jesus walked up to the man by the pool long, long ago; today He has walked up to you. Actually, He has walked up to all of us. “How is that possible?” you ask. It ‘s really quite simple. Jesus lives and works today by the power of His word. All it takes is for someone to take God’s word for himself.

What are you suffering with today? Are you just a lame man (or woman) waiting for your luck to change? Actually, you’re in luck. Your luck has changed. The Lord is standing here right now. He is speaking through this devotion. “Do you want to get well? It’s time to pick up your life and walk

DO YOU WANT TO BE HEALED? 

January 14, 2017

John 5:5-8 – Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

Do you want to be healed? At first glance that may sound like a strange question; but is it? Sometimes we tend to hide behind our weaknesses and even our sicknesses. It can be easier to be a victim than it is to be whole. After all, its not my fault that I am this way and if someone else is responsible for my situation it may be easier to stay broken. If I am made whole I will have to start taking responsibility for my decisions and my actions. That’s why this lame man laid the blame for his condition on someone else; every time the water is stirred up someone else gets in first. I don’t have anyone to help me. That’s why Jesus made the lame man face the real issue; do you want to be made whole. Here are some thoughts from the Pulpit Commentary on today’s passage. 
“The questioning of Jesus on this occasion involved an offer of mercy. “Dost thou veritably wish for health and strength?” The question implies a doubt. The man may have gotten so accustomed to his life of indolence and mendicancy as to regard deliverance from his apparent wretchedness, with all consequent responsibilities of work and energy and self-dependence, as a doubtful blessing. He whined out, with professional drawl, his oft-told story, reflecting very much upon his lovelessness and quarrelsomeness, and ugly temper. There are many who are not anxious for salvation, with all the demands it makes upon the life, with its summons to self-sacrifice and the repression of self-indulgence. There are many religious impostors who prefer tearing open their spiritual wounds to the first passerby, and hugging their grievance, to being made into robust men upon whom the burden of responsibility will immediately fall. In this case the sign of his palsied nature was written upon his face, and was probably known to every passerby.”
Maybe it is not a physical problem that is stopping you, it could be anything. The Lord calls us out of the shadowland of excuses into the light of change. Do you want to be whole? Do you want your ministry to be whole; how about your family? Pick up your pallet and walk, your world is about to change. 

I SHALL SEE GOD

January 13, 2017

In my flesh shall I see God.Job 19:26

We have seen a phenomenon called Beyond the Grave in our church since 1999. 18 years ago no one had any idea the impact this multi-media production would have on all of our lives. No one was talking about heaven or hell in those days, the church seemed to have been fixated on the here and now. All that seemed to matter was how I could be a success in life. The words of Jesus seemed to have been somehow forgotten, Luke 9:25 “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” At the end of the day (or the end of our lives) only eternity will matter. Heaven is real and closer than any of us imagine. Here are some words from Spurgeon that may help us focus on eternity.
“It is not-I shall see the pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold, but I shall see God. This is the sum and substance of heaven, this is the joyful hope of all believers. It is their delight to see him now in the ordinances by faith. They love to behold him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing him as he is, shall be made completely like him. Likeness to God-what can we wish for more? And a sight of God-what can we desire better? Some read the passage, Yet, I shall see God in my flesh, and find here an allusion to Christ, as the Word made flesh, and that glorious beholding of him which shall be the splendour of the latter days. Whether so or not it is certain that Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of seeing him.”
I guess Spurgeon was posing the ultimate question, what makes heaven heaven? Why do you really want to go there or is it just better than the other options? I have thought a lot about Beyond the Grave these last 18 years and have come to a conclusion. Inside of all of us there is something that is crying out for more. It’s not the golden streets or the family reunion that makes heaven so desirable, its the fact that then we will finally see God.

THE ECCLESIA

January 12, 2017

1Cor. 1:2 ¶ To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours

The New Testament word for church is ECCLESIA. It is full of shades of meaning describing the life we have been called to enjoy. This word for church describes a little bit of who we are, the called out ones. We have been called out of one culture into another, we are set apart by God to display His glory. There are several vivid pictures of the church in the scriptures that describe different aspects of who we are. First we are called the body of Christ. Paul describes how each one of us are one part of the unique body of Christ. None of us are self sufficient, we need each other. Just as the hand needs the arm and the foot needs the leg, every member of the body of Christ is vital for us to be useful in the work of God.

Secondly, we are called the bride of Christ. This communicates several beautiful truths. Just as the marriage relationship represents the most intimate of human relationships, being called the bride of Christ speaks of our intimate relationship with the Lord. We are one flesh with Him just as a bride and a groom, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. This relationship also implies righteousness displayed by the wedding garment. We must be clothed with the righteousness of God that comes by grace through faith, there is no other way for us to enter into this life of intimacy with the Lord.

The third picture of the church is the temple of God. Peter says it like this, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. Each one of us are living stones in the temple of God. Why do we exist? We exist to be a habitation of the glory of God. The world needs to experience this supernatural life. We are in the world but not of it. We are here to present another alternative community to this world so others can also join the ECCLESIA, the called out ones.

“ENORMOUS EYE GIGANTIC HEAD” 

January 11, 2017

MERRY WEDNESDAY BY PARRIS

“But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own.” 1 COR. 12
Paul never stopped developing the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory. Not only did he explain how to use the spiritual gifts to build up the body but had a beautiful revelation of the bride of Christ. Paul saw the union between man and women resemble the relationship between Christ and the church. Paul saw the church working together as a spiritual house.

We can say this beautiful dance started with the Trinity. Tim Kelley in his book “The Reason For God, says, “The Trinity is described as perichoresis – to dance or flow around, mutual movement, mutual indwelling. Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love. Creation is a dance with the inner life of the Trinity written all through it. We lost the dance in the refusal to serve God and participate in his community – Adam onward. We return to the dance through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.”

When we are touched by God we are brought into the dance of the Trinity and in turn we become a part of the Body of Christ. The Message Bible stresses “You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”: apostles prophets teachers miracle workers healers helpers organizers those who pray in tongues. But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.”

Part of us becoming whole is not just being born again, that becomes the doorway into a whole new world or as Jesus said, the kingdom of God. The Message continues when it says, “Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary.” It will be important as a Christian to understand that the very thing you need to grow in and be whole is residing in another Christian. God designed the dance of the Trinity to participate and when we do, the gifts are poured out.

I pray 2017 paints a new world of fellowship, less Facebook, more church going, less TV and using your gifts for the body of Christ.

Alone with God

January 10, 2017

Jesus … withdrew again to a mountain.
Jn. 6:15
One of the mysteries of the humanity of Christ is seen in His prayer life. Here is the creator of all things in utter dependency on His Father. Jesus could have commanded stones to be turned to bread but He didn’t, He had chosen another way to live His life. He showed us by example what it means to be in total dependency on our Heavenly Father. Jesus taught us about the necessity of private prayer. To glimpse into the prayers of Jesus would be the most amazing of all mysteries. To see Him worship the Father when He was deserving of worship and adoration. To see Him praying for wisdom and guidance when He is the very wisdom of God. To seeing Him crying out for strength when He is the very Rock of our salvation. All sufficient yet dependent on the Father, all knowing yet looking to the Father for guidance; the mystery of the incarnation gets even deeper as we watch Jesus pray. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on the private prayers of Jesus.
“Humankind needs God. God made us for His own possession, to find our life and happiness in Him alone. As sinful beings, we have been subject to the desires of the human nature and the world. We have been brought under the power of the visible and temporal. Our restoration in Christ is meant to bring us back into the Father’s presence, love, and fellowship. We have been saved to love and delight in the presence of God. We need to be alone with God. Even Christ Himself, during His time on earth, needed this. He could not live the life of the Son of God here in an earthly form without at times isolating Himself to be alone with the Father. How much more you and I need it! When Jesus instructed us to enter our inner sanctuary, to shut the door, and spend time alone with the Father, He also promised that God would hear our prayers and answer them.”
Jesus prayed on earth, He is also praying at the Father’s right hand in heaven. Today He is our heavenly high priest interceding on our behalf. This really gives me hope, Jesus is praying for me, is it possible for His prayers to fail? I have a feeling everything is going to turn out just fine.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

January 9, 2017

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Gen.1:4
Funny how different the world appears after the light is turned on. For me, I spent my first twenty one years spinning in circles, walking in darkness trying to feel my way through life. If I wasn’t high I was figuring out how to get high. My life was consumed with myself and the pleasures of the moment. That seemed like the right way to live because that is all I could see. I couldn’t see the value of eternity, heaven wasn’t on my radar, and the Bible was a book I couldn’t understand and wasn’t interested in. How did my life change drastically, suddenly, and permanently? It can be described in one word, light. Somehow the light came on. First, I was suddenly aware of my selfish, self centered lifestyle. I was my problem and I became painfully aware of my need to change. Secondly, I saw Jesus as the only answer. The light of revelation revealed Christ as the only Savior and my only way to get free. Next, the word of God came alive to me, God’s written word became the source of that light for me, I could never see the Bible the same way again. Let there be light, light had begun to shine in my life. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on today’s verse.

“Light might well be good since it sprang from that fiat of goodness, ‘Let there be light’. We who enjoy it should be more grateful for it than we are, and see more of God in it and by it. Light physical is said by Solomon to be sweet, but gospel light is infinitely more precious, for it reveals eternal things, and ministers to our immortal natures. When the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual light, and opens our eyes to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we behold sin in its true colors, and ourselves in our real position; we see the Most Holy God as he reveals himself, the plan of mercy as he propounds it, and the world to come as the Word describes it. Spiritual light has many beams and prismatic colors, but whether they be knowledge, joy, holiness, or life, all are divinely good.”
Jesus is the light of the world. Look to Him today and you too will find yourself in a new world. Not only will you see Him differently, you will see life itself very differently. LET THERE BE LIGHT.