SONS AND DAUGHTERS

August 4, 2015

Rom. 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the last days. Just the mention of this topic stirs up thoughts of wars, famines, earthquakes, and the mark of the beast. Sometimes we tend to overlook the greatest sign of the end times which Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost. Peter said that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all mankind in the last of days. Today, the Holy Spirit is being poured out on regions of the globe for the first time. From China to the Ukraine, from Viet Nam to Romania, God is pouring out His Spirit. 

When we receive the Holy Spirit a magnificent change begins to happen in our lives. Instead of making our own decisions in life, the Holy Spirit wants to lead us in every arena. Paul said that this was the proof that we are sons, that we are led by the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s verse. 
“All that are Christ’s are taken into the relation of Children to God, v. 14. Their property: They are led by the Spirit of God, as a scholar in his learning is led by his tutor, as a traveller in his journey is led by his guide, as a soldier in his engagements is led by his captain; not driven as beasts, but led as rational creatures, drawn with the cords of a man and the bands of love. It is the undoubted character of all true believers that they are led by the Spirit of God. Having submitted themselves in believing to his guidance, they do in their obedience follow that guidance, and are sweetly led into all truth and all duty.”
Just think for a moment. What if our whole city was infiltrated by people actually being led by the Holy Spirit? Just think how that would change our world. How could something like that happen? Well, it starts with one person. It starts when you yield or I yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Rather than striving in our own wisdom and strength we yield to the Holy Spirit. It is a much easier, less complicated life. So how do we know we are sons? “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

GETTING OUT OF YOURSELVES

August 3, 2015

MERRY MONDAY- Parris Bailey

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” 2 Cor. 5:15

It’s tough when something happens to your children. As a parent, you would face anything but don’t touch my kids! Our middle son, Nathan was 4 years old when I spent the weekend watching him throw up. By Monday, I took him into the doctor and he gave him fluids but by the days end, we found ourselves in the hospital seeing Nathan wheeled away to do exploratory surgery! The next morning while laying by his side the Lord gave me this scripture in my heart and peace flooded the room guiding me through that storm. (Nathan had a ruptured appendix) His love carried us through, covered me and pushed me forward. Wuest Translations says, “For the love which Christ has (for me) presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive.” I so vividly remember how God did just that! Wrapping me with his presence and He has done it time and time again. Where would we all be without the love of God helping us?

MacClaren says: “For it is not my love to Jesus, but His love to me, that brings the real moulding power into my life, and my love to Him is only the condition on which the true power acts upon me. To get the fulcrum and the lever which will heave a life up to the heights you have to get out of yourselves. That love is independent of time and of space; it includes humanity, and is co-extensive with it. Unturned away by unworthiness, unrepelled by non-responsiveness, undisgusted by any sin, unwearied by any, however numerous, foiling of its attempts, the love of Christ, like the great heavens that bend above us, wraps us all in its sweetness, and showers upon us all its light and its dew.”

Most of the time, we just have to “get out of our own skin”. Looking at things in the natural will cause us to lose our footing. I was only 26 then and little did I realize back then how vital reading the word and learning to listen to His voice would be such a life changer for me. 

He goes on to to say, “If you want ice to melt, put it out into the sunshine, If you want the mirror to gleam, do not spend all your time in polishing it. Carry it where it can catch the ray, and it will flash it back in glory. ‘We love Him because He first loved us.’ Our love is an echo; be sure that you listen for the parent note, and link yourselves by faith with that great love which has come down from Heaven for us all.” WOWZA! 

HIS NEARNESS – MY DEARNESS

August 2, 2015

Is. 8:14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 

Most Christians know about having Christ in their hearts. What may not be quite as common is knowing that they actually are hidden in God themselves. Today’s verse says that God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, becomes a sanctuary for us. He becomes our shelter in this world no matter what comes your way. What kinds of challenges are you facing? Have you or someone you love received a bad medical report? If so, you are hidden away in God and He happens to be known as the Great Physician. Or maybe you have been struggling with your finances, your daily provision. Here to, you can be encouraged. He is the source of our total supply and He happens to be quite nearby, as close to you as your skin. As a matter of fact Martin Smith sang that He is wrapped around us like a winter coat, you are hidden away in His care. Matthew Henry speaks powerfully about this verse in his commentary; check it out. 
“He shall be for a sanctuary; make him your fear, and you shall find him your hope, your help, your defense, and your mighty deliverer. He will sanctify and preserve you. He will be for a sanctuary,” “To make you holy. He will be your sanctification;” so some read it. If we sanctify God by our praises, he will sanctify us by his grace. “To make you easy. He will be your sanctuary,” to which you may flee for safety, and where you are privileged form all the arrests of fear; you shall find an inviolable refuge and security in him, and see yourselves our of the reach of danger. Those that truly fear God shall not need to fear any evil.”
Henry sees this as a place of protection from the onslaught of the sins in this world. It often feels as if we are all alone in in the midst of a ferocious onslaught of sin and compromise. Here too, the Lord is with us. He is our sanctuary and He keeps us from the traps of the enemy. How can you take advantage of this promise in today’s verse? Practice His presence. Draw near to God and you will suddenly become aware of His nearness to you and your dearness to Him. 

Stuck in the Mud

August 1, 2015

It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
Romans 9:16
I often remember the time a national children’s ministry used our church facilities for one of their regional conferences. I thought I would pass out when I heard and read their promotional materials. ‘Come learn from the experts’, they proudly boasted. I guess they actually felt responsible for the supposed success their ministry had generated. So much for the glory of God. It’s terrifying how quickly Christians can move over from grace into some sort of system of works. We started by faith, we have to finish by grace through faith. Martin Luther understood the message of mercy and grace. Check out his thoughts on this important truth. 
“Even with extreme effort, learning to depend on God’s mercy is difficult— We are so rooted in our habits, and our hearts are so used to it, that we can’t stop thinking this way: “If I have lived a holy life and done great and many works, then God will be merciful to me.” It’s extraordinarily difficult to change our thinking and clearly distinguish between faith and love. Even if we already have faith, the mud still sticks and clings to us. We keep wanting to brag, “I have preached so long, have lived so well, and have done so much. Surely God will take note of that.” We want to bargain with God. We want him to look at our lives and change the judgment seat into the mercy seat because of what we have done. But nothing will come of this. You may be able to tell other people, “I have tried to do good to everyone. Where I have fallen short, I will try to make it up.” But when you come before God, leave such bragging at home. Remember that you are appealing for grace, not justice.”
Every Christian leader has struggled with the temptation to take credit for all that the Lord has done. The Lord told Paul that he had received a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan, because of the revelations he had received from the Lord. The Lord did not want Paul to slip out of grace into works. He wanted Paul to stay totally dependent on God’s grace. What was God’s answer to Paul when he asked the Lord to remove the thorn? “My grace is sufficient for you”.

JUST WAIT

July 31, 2015

Psa. 62:1 ¶ For God alone my soul waits in silence;  from him comes my salvation. 

At the end of the day, prayer can be reduced to waiting on God. After we get past all of our requests and troubles we find ourselves in the place of total dependency. Total dependency, I like the sound of that. It takes matters out of my hands and places them where they belong, in the hands of God. If you think about it, why does the Lord need my prayers? He knows everything that is going on, even my secret thoughts. Prayer is for my benefit. Prayer recognizes total dependency and opens me up to the greatest of all answered prayers; intimacy with God Himself. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on waiting upon God. 
“Waiting becomes then the only way to the experience of a full salvation, the only way, truly, to know God as the God of our salvation. All the difficulties that are brought forward as keeping us back from full salvation, have their cause in this one thing: the defective knowledge and practice of waiting upon God. All that the Church and its members need for the manifestation of the mighty power of God in the world, is the return to our true place, the place that belongs to us, both in creation and redemption, the place of absolute and unceasing dependence upon God. Let us strive to see what the elements are that make up this most blessed and needful waiting upon God: it may help us to discover the reasons why this grace is so little cultivated, and to feel how infinitely desirable it is that the Church, that we ourselves, should at any price learn its blessed secret.”
Murray used a term, full salvation. He connected that to knowing God intimately. Could it be that at the bottom of God’s instructions for us to pray is His desire to fellowship with us and our need to know Him? I think that is exactly why we are instructed to wait upon God. God is amazing! We seek Him in prayer for our greatest dilemmas and He not only answers our prayers but He Himself shows up in our lives. I like this full salvation thing, it is what we were born for. After everything is said and done, the very trouble that brought you to your knees becomes God’s path to bring you into this full salvation. 

DARE TO BE HOLY

July 30, 2015

Precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.
2 Peter 1:4

You don’t hear much talk or preaching about being holy nowadays. It’s kind of like holiness is out of style. Why would God expect us to be holy in this filthy world? Could it be because He is holy and He wants us to be like Him? Actually He took that to incredibly extreme measures when He offered His only Son as a sin offering at the cross. He took our sins so we could be forgiven. We are considered holy by the Lord when we believe in His offer of salvation. He wasn’t content to leave it there. We are not only considered holy, He actually makes us holy by sending the Holy Spirit to live this new life inside of everyone who believes in Him and yields to His love. He wants us to show His life as a contrast to what the world offers. Here are some thoughts from A.B. Simpson on this holiness. 
“God’s motives are always loving! I have known people who seemed to be terrified by God’s loving desire that we should reflect His own holiness and goodness. As God’s faithful children, we should be attracted to holiness, for holiness Godlikeness-likeness to God! God encourages every Christian believer to follow after holiness. We know who we are and we know who God is. He does not ask us to be God and He does not ask us to produce the holiness that only He Himself knows. Only God is holy absolutely: all other beings can be holy only in relative degrees. Actually, it is amazing and wonderful that God should promise us the privilege of sharing in His nature. He remembers we were made of dust. So He tells us what is in His being as He thinks of us: “It is My desire that you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Me. I want you to be more like Jesus, My eternal Son, every day you live!”
So dare to be holy. Determine you will not settle for a form of godliness, religious principles and teachings with no power. Press on to know the Lord. As you draw close to Him, more and more of His nature will be yours. You will see that there is a better life available and God will be glorified. 

ARE YOU A SAINT?

July 29, 2015

Rom. 1:7 ¶ To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: ¶ Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Living in New Orleans we hear the word ‘saint’ used a lot. Everything from our beloved football team ‘The Saints” to the Catholic use of the term in this predominantly Catholic city, to the famous song, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’. The funny thing is few people understand what the Bible means when it calls people saints. Paul uses the term saint in today’s verse referring to all the Christians in the church in Rome. We can understand a little about this word if we look at the greek word used by Paul in his letter. It is the word hagios which literally means set apart to be holy. This tells us that a saint is a saint not because of their personal deeds or goodness. A saint becomes a saint totally by the work of God. Here is how Albert Barnes sees it. 

 “The word saints—hagios—means those who are holy, or those who are devoted or consecrated to God. The radical idea of the word is that which is separated from a common to a sacred use, and answers to the Hebrew word kodesh. It is applied to anything that is set apart to the service of God, to the temple, to the sacrifices, to the utensils about the temple, to the garments, etc., of the priests, and to the priests themselves. It was applied to the Jews as a people separated from other nations, and devoted or consecrated to God; while other nations were devoted to the service of idols. It is also applied to Christians, as being a people devoted or set apart to the service of God. The radical idea, then, as applied to Christians is, that they are separated from other men, and other objects and pursuits, and consecrated to the service of God.”
So maybe its not only football players or ancient men and women of God that are saints, maybe you are a saint. Its not the estimation of your holiness or works but the work of Christ at the cross that makes you a saint. What is our part? Our part is yielding to His voice. He loves us and calls us out of the world to a place of separation from the world, as we yield we become one of His saints. 

DO, DO, DO

July 28, 2015

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 I think it is hard for the Lord’s dutiful servants to receive impartation from the Lord. Christian workers tend to get fixated on programs, routines, principles, goals, performance… You get the idea. Working continually, praying, counseling, witnessing, administrating, serving. Sometimes we tend to act as if God’s work depends on us. If you haven’t figured it out yet; it doesn’t. The kingdom of God will be complete on this earth, our privilege is to be part of it. It’s success is not dependent on us and our performance. 

How do I know this? Actually I am describing the corner I had painted myself into after pastoring in New Orleans for sixteen years. I had discipled, counseled, and led daily morning prayer for most of those sixteen years. We had done street evangelism, friendship evangelism, cell ministry, door to door ministry, hospital ministry, and too many other projects and programs to mention. I was exhausted. 

Of course we had seen a lot of fruit in those years but I was done, running on empty. What was the problem? Dutiful servants forget how to receive. We can become so busy helping others and always having the answer for whatever comes up that we can no longer receive from God. Actually receiving from the Lord can be something we have forgotten, something we used to do a long time ago. 

I am describing my condition in 1994, sixteen years of pastoring had drained the well dry for me. That’s when my life was turned upside down (or right side up) once again. In one morning (actually it spilled over into the afternoon) my life was radically changed. What happened? I fell into the river, got swallowed up by God, fell into a trance, got drunk on the new wine; whatever you want to call it. My receiver got fixed. I was sitting in a revival service when I somehow got it. I was the problem. I needed God too. 

In that life changing moment it was as if a switch was turned on inside of me. I changed from the serving and pouring out mode into the receiving and drinking mode. In that instant my life was flooded with God. It was as sudden and dramatic as my salvation experience. I was experiencing my second conversion. I was being delivered from being a pastor, I was just a Christian again. Now don’t get me wrong, twenty one years later I am still pastoring the church in New Orleans. I am just not a professional anymore. I am just a Christian.  

BONDSERVANTS

July 27, 2015

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY- 

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” ROM.1:1
  1. a servant δοῦλος * doulos * slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): – bond (-man), one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will altogether consumed in the will of the other. 

I love writing out the definition of the bondservant. Paul, loved to give himself “that title” and with it came so much meaning. In today’s world, we do everything we can in life to free ourselves from all authority and headship. But when we are in Christ, our lives takes on a new dimension. Recently a small community in Louisiana not far from where we live faced tragedy and lives were taken way before their time. One cannot just walk away and not be affected. I pray all of us use this tragedy and so many others to pause and evaluate our lives. “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Matt. 10:39 

Expositor’s Bible says it like this, “You are, with infinite rightfulness, the bondmen of your God. You see your deed of purchase; it is the other side of your warrant of emancipation. Take it, and write your own unworthy names with joy upon it, consenting and assenting to your Owner’s perfect rights. And then live out your life, keeping the autograph of your own surrender before your eyes. Live, suffer, conquer, labour, serve, as men who have themselves walked to their Master’s door, and presented the ear to the awl which pins it to the doorway, each in his turn saying, “I will not go out free.” With eyes open, and fixed upon the face of the Master who claims us, and with hands placed helpless and willing within His hands, we will, we do, present ourselves bondservants to Him; for discipline, for servitude, for all His will.”
Give me Father, a purpose deep, 

In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; 

Faithful and true what e’er the strife, 

Pleasing Thee in my daily life; 

Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 

Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn, 

And from the world now let me turn; 

Living for Thee, and Thee alone, 

Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne; 

Only one life, “twill soon be past, 

Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, 

Now let me say,”Thy will be done”; 

And when at last I’ll hear the call, 

I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”; 

Only one life,’twill soon be past, 

Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 

Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, 

If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
 C.T. STUDD

STAND STILL

July 26, 2015

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” —Exodus 14:13

I was at a real crossroads in my life. I was to lead a team from our Bible School to plant a church in Sacramento, California. There was only one problem, I felt in my heart I wasn’t supposed to go. Our team was packed and ready to go for a two month tree-planting trip to raise money for the church plant. It was Sunday afternoon, the day before we left, when I received a word from the Lord from Dick Mills. He said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”. I knew in my heart this was fro the Lord. I went to my pastors and told them what was going on. It was hard to tell my leaders and even harder to tell the team but I was learning to listen to the Lord. Thankfully, the elders of our church decided to take three days to get away with me to seek the Lord. I was learning to “Stand still”. At the end of our fasting and praying it was clear to all of us I was to return to New Orleans to take over our ministry there which ultimately became Victory Fellowship. Standing still has become a life long experiment for me. It is better to be still than to try to do things we are incapable of doing. Enjoy these thoughts from Spurgeon on today’s verse.  
 “These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master’s word to him is, “Stand still.” It will be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions… Precipitancy cries, “do something. Stir yourself; to stand still and wait, is sheer idleness.” We must be doing something at once—we must do it so we think—instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything….“Stand still”;—keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.”
There is a huge difference when the Lord says go forward. Instead of struggling with our limited human resources, we are advancing in the power and the provision of God. What a huge advantage. Stand still and see the mighty hand of God work on your behalf. 


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