THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER

August 30, 2015

Acts 1:4,5 ¶ And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’.

This is one of my favorite promises in the Bible. Actually, it is surrounded with great mystery. Jesus is giving us a glimpse into an arrangement between the Father and the Son that took place in what could be called eternity past. Before there was a universe, before there was even a thing known as time, the Father made a promise to His only Son. It went something like this, “If you become one of this race called humanity and redeem them from their fallen state, I will give you a remnant of that race to become fellow heirs with you. They will be given this same relationship with Me that You have enjoyed from eternity”. Today, we call this promise the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is the purchased prize of the Son of God at Calvary. That is the Father’s promise. This is the relationship that we enjoy today, the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Here are some comments from Jonathan Edwards on this very promise. 
“Christ was made a curse for us that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. The Holy Ghost is the sum of all the spiritual blessings which God hath promised. Therefore, ’tis called the Spirit of Promise. This is the great promise of the Father; review me, and behold I send the promise of the Father upon you. This promised thing Christ received; it was given into his hand as soon as he had finished the work of our redemption, to bestow on all that he had redeemed: Acts 2:33 Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, [he] hath shed {forth this, which ye now see and hear}.” 
Today more than ever we need the fulfillment of this promise in our lives. The world is dark and unpredictable, the Holy Spirit becomes our strength and hiding place in this crooked and perverse generation. We don’t have to live our lives tormented by temptation and fear, the power of the Holy Spirit is available to us to help us live godly lives in this ungodly world. 

HOW DEEP IS THE RIVER IN YOU?

August 29, 2015

Ezek. 47:4 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. 

At first glance, it seems like this vision is about you wading out into the deep places in God’s river But maybe there is more to it than that. Maybe this vision is about the river in you. Maybe this vision is about the deep places of God’s grace that He has worked in your life. Didn’t the Apostle Peter talk about growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus our Lord? If that is the case, are you growing up into the knowledge of Jesus our Savior? Is Christ being formed in you or are you stuck in the stagnant swamp of lethargy or worldly behavior? Let’s follow Ezekiel as we allow God to work His work in us. Here are some thoughts from Maclaren on the powerful prophetic vision. 

“It came from the abundant welling-up in the sanctuary. The fountain was the mother of the river—that is to say, God’s ideal for the world, for the Church, for the individual Christian, is rapid increase in their experience of the depth and the force of the stream of blessings which together make up salvation. So we come to a very sharp testing question. Will anybody tell me that the rate at which Christianity has grown for these nineteen centuries corresponds with Ezekiel’s vision—which is God’s ideal? Will any Christian man say, ‘My own growth in grace, and increase in the depth and fulness of the flow of the river through my spirit and my life correspond to that ideal’? A mile from the source the river is unfordable. How many miles from the source of our first experience do we stand? How many of us, instead of having ‘a river that could not be passed over, waters to swim in,’ have but a poor and all but stagnant feeble trickle, as shallow as or shallower than it was at first?”
So rather than hanging out in the shallow places of our early experiences let’s press on to know the Lord. There is more of God available for each of us, more than we ever imagined. Letting go and following Ezekiel as he wades deeper and deeper will begin your greatest adventure, it will start you on the journey that will define your purpose in life. 

KEEP IT REAL

August 28, 2015

 2Cor. 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 
I learned a lot in my early Christian days in a very unexpected way. I found the many hours I spent doing street ministry proved to be highly educational. I can’t count the times that I talked with people who claimed to be Christians, often church attenders, who were not truly converted. I guess we have to define what I mean by conversion. I would say you could often tell that folks would talk about spiritual things in theory, sort of like an outsider looking in. They would say many of the right things but something was missing. What was the missing element? Personal experience. You can talk about many things with some degree of accuracy but everything changes when you taste it for yourself. That is especially true in regards to the gospel. As David said, taste and see that the Lord is good. This was the theme underlying everything Jonathan Edwards preached. Until the light is turned on, you are still in darkness no matter how much information you have. Here are some thoughts from Edwards on having a true sense of God. 

“A true sense of the divine and superlative excellency of the things of religion; a real sense of the excellency of God, and Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption, and the ways and works of God revealed in the gospel. There is a divine and superlative glory in these things; an excellency that is of a vastly higher kind, and more sublime nature, than in other things; a glory greatly distinguishing them from all that is earthly and temporal. He that is spiritually enlightened truly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He don’t merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing; but there is a sense of the loveliness of God’s holiness. There is not only a speculatively judging that God is gracious, but a sense how amiable God is upon that account; or a sense of the beauty of this divine attribute.”
After everything is said and done we are all hungry for something real. Theories, dogmas, creeds, and philosophies leave us empty. We can get by for a little while on empowerment slogans or principles but our heart is hungry for something more. Only when you taste the goodness of God for yourself will that hunger be met; the facades fall down before His glory and you will finally know what it means to “Keep it Real”. 

AWAKENING

August 27, 2015

“His fruit was sweet to my taste.” —Song of Solomon 2:3

It seems like everywhere I turn today someone is talking about a coming Great Awakening. It just seems like the time is right. Why would I say that? There are several reasons. First, the Bible talks about Christ coming for the first time in the fullness of times. There had never been a better moment for Christ to be preached to the world than in that first century during the Roman Empire. Much of the world spoke greek as their language and transportation was much improved under the Roman rule. In the same way, we are living in another fullness of times. It is easier to preach Christ to the world today than any other time. The world is prepared for a Great Awakening. Secondly, the conditions of our culture are ripe. There has been an obvious slide into a godless culture over the last generation, the contrast of light and darkness has never been greater. Its time for a move of God. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on the ingredients of an awakening of faith. 
“We hear the voice of God, not with the outward ear alone, but with the inward ear; we hear it as God’s Word, and we believe it to be so; that is the “hearing” of faith. Then our mind looketh upon the truth as it is presented to us; that is to say, we understand it, we perceive its meaning; that is the “seeing” of faith. Next we discover its preciousness; we begin to admire it, and find how fragrant it is; that is faith in its “smell.” Then we appropriate the mercies which are prepared for us in Christ; that is faith in its “touch.” Hence follow the enjoyments, peace, delight, communion; which are faith in its “taste.” Any one of these acts of faith is saving. To hear Christ’s voice as the sure voice of God in the soul will save us; but that which gives true enjoyment is the aspect of faith wherein Christ, by holy taste, is received into us, and made, by inward and spiritual apprehension of His sweetness and preciousness, to be the food of our souls. It is then we sit “under His shadow with great delight,” and find His fruit sweet to our taste.”
So are you ready? I hope so. The Lord is actively recruiting awakened laborers to work in His fields of harvest. Don’t be surprised if your life and its plans are suddenly interrupted by a new season of Awakening. 

RECEIVING POWER

August 26, 2015

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This is one of the greatest of all Bible promises. It seems all most unthinkable, Jesus is promising His followers the same power for ministry that was on Him. He had told them that they would do greater things than He had done in His lifetime, they had no idea how anything like that would be remotely possible. This was the game changer. The disciples were being suddenly launched into a ministry that seemed impossible. It would have been impossible if they did not receive the promised power of the Holy Spirit. The thing that is even more amazing is this, that promise is still in effect. It wasn’t just for the early church and the apostles. This promise is for us. It was given to men, women, the young and the old, it was even given to all of the ethnic groups of the world. This power is available for you. Here are some thoughts from Albert Barnes on this promise. 
“But ye shall receive power, etc. Literally, as it is translated in the margin, “ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you.” This was said to them to console them. Though they could not know the times which God reserved in his own appointment, yet they should receive the promised Guide and Comforter. The word power here refers to all the help or aid which the Holy Spirit would grant; the power of speaking with new tongues; of preaching the gospel with great effect; of enduring great trials, etc. See Mark 16:17, 18. The apostles had impatiently asked him if he was then about to restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus by this answer rebuked their impatience; taught them to repress their ill-timed ardor; and assured them again of the coming of the Holy Ghost.”
The church today needs this power. Somehow we often settle for far less than New Testament Christianity. This generation needs to see the power of God for itself. Its time for all of us to shake off our preconceived ideas about what church should look like. It’s time to wait again for power to fall upon us from on high. This will take us out of the realm of human effort and orchestration to the arena of the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I SHALL NOT WANT

August 25, 2015

Psa. 23:1 ¶  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Is this promise literally true? Is it possible to live a life completely and totally satisfied? Is it possible to ever say I am  totally and completely satisfied. I have no want? This is apparently the very heart of the message of Jesus. He wasn’t promising earthly kingdoms. He wasn’t that kind of king. Jesus said on several occasions and in several ways that there was a place of total contentment found in Him. To the woman at the well He said that He had water to drink that would finally quench the thirst of her soul. To the enquirers after He fed the 5000, He said He was the bread that came down from heaven. He continued to say if you ate that bread, your hunger for life and purpose would be satisfied. Apparently, the key to this kind of completeness is contained within this call to intimacy. Christ Himself is the food that satisfies our souls. He is the Good Shepherd, when we come to Him all our wants are swallowed up. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on today’s verse.

“The river that supplies the city of God, is a full and never-failing stream: there is enough, and it never is dry. And they that trust in God, and whose hope the Lord is, they shall be like trees “planted by the waters that spreadeth forth her roots, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, nor shall cease from yielding fruit”. God has promised that he will never fail them, nor forsake them.

The people that has God amongst them, they have the fountain of all good in the midst of them. There is a full fountain, indeed an inexhaustible and infinite fountain, enough for the supply of everyone, under all their circumstances and necessities: whatever anyone wants, he may go to this fountain, and there he may have a supply. Such a people that have this God amongst them, may glory in him, and say, “The Lord is our shepherd

we shall not want”.

Have you found that place where every want is finally gone? There is only One who can do that, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep. Maybe your heart is full of wants today If so, come to the green pasture, that special place next to the still waters. Lay down under the care of the Shepherd, soon you will be singing David’s song of satisfaction for yourself.

THE POWER OF DIVINE GRACE

August 24, 2015

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

Psalm 114: 1-8 “When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion. The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back. The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs. What ailed you, O you sea, that you fled? You Jordan, that you were driven back? You mountains, that you skipped like rams; and you little hills, like lambs? Tremble, you earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.”
The Father’s work is never done, even when young-Jesus said he “must be about my Father’s business” when His parents were looking for Him, and in Hebrew’s 7:25 it says, “He ever lives to make intercession”. Redemption just never stops. Just as we all love it when the season’s change, one can love to watch redemption change others and us! 

I found this great quote! “When Christ descends upon the soul in the work of conversion, what strength doth He put forth! The strongholds of sin are battered down, every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ is brought into captivity to the obedience of His scepter. Devils are cast out of the possession which they have kept for many years without the least disturbance. Strong lusts are mortified and the very constitution of the soul is changed. “What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams?” etc. The prophet speaks those words of the powerful entrance of the children of Israel into Canaan. The like is done by Christ in the conversion of a sinner. Jordan is driven back, the whole course of the soul is altered, the mountains skip like rams. There are many mountains in the soul of a sinner, as pride, unbelief, self-conceitedness, atheism, profaneness, etc. These mountains are plucked up by the roots in a moment when Christ begins the work of conversion.” – Ralph Robinson.

While many laugh at the thought of the Red Sea parting so Israel could go into the promised land, those same ones laugh at the work of God in one’s life. I pray you can find the fountain of living waters on a daily basis and never tire of his presence in your life because it’s precious and undeniable. Spurgeon said, “They lived in a world of wonders, where God was seen in the wondrous bread they ate and in the water they drank, as well as in the solemn worship of His holy place. When the Lord is manifestly present in a church, and His gracious rule obediently owned, what a golden age has come, and what honorable privileges His people enjoy! May it be so among us.” 

CAN THESE BONES LIVE?

August 23, 2015

Ezek. 37:2-4 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 

There is only one solution for dead people. The answer is resurrection of course. Nothing could have appeared so hopeless to Ezekiel than a whole valley full of dead men’s bones. “Can these bones live ?” The voice seemed to be somehow reassuring even though the circumstances were not good. Let’s say things could have hardly been worse. Ezekiel wasn’t quite sure who these people were or what the voice meant but he began to prophesy to the wind and to the bones. Before he could bat his eyes these dead people were full of life. This was more than just coming back from the dead. These people had entered into a new kind of life, they had entered into life itself. They were being born again by the breath of God. Here are some thoughts from Maclaren on this powerful vision.   
“We are carried back to that grand vision of the prophet who saw the bones lying, very many and very dry, sapless and disintegrated, a heap dead and ready to rot. The question comes to him: ‘Son of man! Can these bones live?’ The only possible answer, if he consult experience, is, ‘O Lord God! Thou knowest.’ Then follows the great invocation: ‘Come from the four winds, O Breath! and breathe upon these slain that they may live.’ And the Breath comes and ‘they stand up, an exceeding great army.’ ‘It is the Spirit that quickeneth.’ The Scripture treats us all as dead, being separated from God, unless we are united to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. According to the saying of the Evangelist, ‘They which believe on Him receive’ the Spirit, and thereby receive the life which He gives, or, as our Lord Himself speaks, are ‘born of the Spirit.’ The highest and most characteristic office of the Spirit of God is to enkindle this new life, and hence His noblest name, among the many by which He is called, is the Spirit of life.”
Actually Ezekiel’s vision is a glimpse into the last days of human history. When things look most hopeless the wind of change begins to blow. I believe the wind is blowing and Ezekiel’s vision is about to be fulfilled with the greatest harvest of souls the world has ever seen. 

TONGUES OF FIRE

August 22, 2015

Acts 2:3,4  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues las the Spirit gave them utterance.

I am persuaded that the greatest sign of the last days is totally overlooked and even shunned by the Christian Church. You speak of the end times and thoughts of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines and signs in the heavens immediately come to mind. No one even mentions the sign that was the subject of Peter’s sermon on that first Pentecostal Sunday. The very focus of the great ‘this is that’ sermon was the gift of the heavenly language. It was the speaking in tongues that drew the crowd, it was those unusual languages that brought the sense of the supernatural on the scene. This was the fulfillment of the outpouring on all flesh that Joel spoke of as well as Isaiah’s stammering lips. Is. 28:11 “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” What would prove to be our greatest weapon to win the most souls has been put aside as something unimportant or even irrelevant to this world’s culture. Here are some words from the 1800’s by Maclaren on the fire of God.

“I believe that one of the chief wants of the Christian Church of this generation is more of the fire of God! We are all icebergs compared with what we ought to be. Look at yourselves; never mind about your brethren. Let each of us look at his own heart, and say whether there is any trace in his Christianity of the power of that Spirit who is fire. Is our religion flame or ice? Where among us are to be found lives blazing with enthusiastic devotion and earnest love? Do not such words sound like mockery when applied to us? Have we not to listen to that solemn old warning that never loses its power, and, alas! seems never to lose its appropriateness: ‘Because thou art neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.’ We ought to be like the burning beings before God’s throne, the seraphim, the spirits that blaze and serve. We ought to be like God Himself, all aflame with love. Let us seek penitently for that Spirit of fire who will dwell in us all if we will.”

Lord, I don’t want to be an iceberg, make me one of your burning ones. I think the world is longing for passion. It wants to feel strongly about something. Why not let our passion be an unbridled fire for the Lord.

COUNSELOR

August 21, 2015

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.

John 14:16

Have you ever needed counseling? Sometimes you just don’t know what to do, what steps to make, or who to turn to. The natural man is limited. He has only natural resources at his disposal, sometimes that is simply not good enough. The decisions we make often times effect ourselves as well as many others, often for a very long time. That’s why counsel is essential. That is one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit. He has everything of God at His disposal; He is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. His eternal nature puts Him outside the limits of time. His omnipotence says all powerful, His omniscience gives Him all information. His omnipresence removes any secrets, He is everywhere. Here is how Luther describes our Counselor.

“It’s correct to say that the Holy Spirit is our Counselor, because that’s what he does and is supposed to do. Right now, I don’t want to debate about his divine being or substance. Christ indicates here that the Spirit is a distinct person—the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. But in John 15, we also see that the Spirit is God—the Holy Spirit is one in essence with the Father and the Son. For now, it’s enough to learn that he is called a counselor for us. Whoever understands what it means for the Spirit to be our Counselor will have already won the battle. That person will find nothing but pure comfort and joy in heaven and on earth. Because the Father is the one who sends him to help us, and because Christ is the one who asks him to do so, this sending is certainly not done out of anger. Instead, it flows from a fatherly, heartfelt love. So Christians should remind themselves of this name for the Holy Spirit. He is a counselor, and we are the troubled and timid ones whom he helps.”

So what kind of counsel do you need? There is no human counselor that can help some of the tight spots we find ourselves in.  Where can I meet this God Counselor? He speaks to us from His written word. Remember, that book is alive, active, and sharper than a two edged sword. Today, He has every answer you need. You can trust Him and lean powerfully on His word.


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