PRAY

May 5, 2016

Pray for each other.
JAMES 5:16
Have you ever thought about prayer? No, really. Have you ever really thought about prayer. All religions practice some kind of prayer. The Hindus have some sort of chanting, the Muslims turn toward Mecca, and the Catholics have their rosaries. The problem with all of these prayers, they are all focused on human effort. Only true Christian prayer can actually qualify as prayer. What do I mean by that? Real prayer is a mysterious combination of human endeavor and supernatural intervention. Prayer actually originates in heaven. Our role is more of a yielding than initiating. That’s why all true prayer finds an answer. Christ is the heavenly Intercessor, His prayers are released in us through the Holy Spirit. That’s why Paul said we don’t know how to pray as we should but the Holy Spirit prays through us. These God initiated prayers are powerful and bring God’s kingdom down here on earth. Here are some practical guidelines from Andrew Murray about prayer.
“Intercession is an indispensable part of prayer. It strengthens our love and faith in what God can do and is a way of bringing blessing and rescue to others.

Begin by putting forward those who are close to you, those with whom you live. Pray that you will be a help and not a hindrance to them. Pray for wisdom, for consideration toward them, for goodness and love, and for your self-sacrifice for their good.

Pray for your friends and for all with whom you come into contact….Pray for all Christians, for spiritual leaders and others in positions of authority.

Pray for those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as their Redeemer. Make a list of the names that God has laid on your heart and pray for their conversion. You belong to Christ; He needs you to bring the people around you to Him in prayer. The Holy Spirit will strengthen you to actively care about others. Pray, too, for the poor and the neglected. Pray for the unconverted and for mission work….Remember that you have been “saved in order to serve, and you are on earth for the sole purpose of making God’s love known to others.”
The easiest thing for me is to start out worshipping and praying in the Spirit. Soon, the Lord takes over and we find and effectual time of prayer. It’s not hard, all it takes is a yielded heart. 

HEAVEN COME

May 4, 2016

In this manner, therefore, pray:
 Our Father in heaven,

 Hallowed be Your name. 

Your kingdom come.
 Your will be done

 On earth as it is in heaven. 
                         Matt.6:9,10
The Lord’s Prayer has been prayed by Christians for almost 2000 years. To me, these verses are the heart of that prayer. Jesus taught us first to recognize our relationship with the Lord, we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Next, He taught us to recognize the Kingdom of Heaven and call for God’s kingdom to be established on earth. What exactly is God’s kingdom? Obviously it is far different from any earthly domain. This King is obviously a different kind of King. This king came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for sinners. His kingdom is similarly different; it is not a physical place on earth that can be observed but is characterized by the manifest presence of the Lord. When we pray for His kingdom to come we are actually inviting Him to come. I have been listening to a song from Bethel called HEAVEN COME that describes this prayer. Here are the words to this song. 

HEAVEN COME
YOU ARE CALLING ME AGAIN

I HEAR YOUR VOICE UPON THE WIND

IN THE QUIET IN THE STILL

HEAVEN

GLORY WRITTEN IN THE SKY

IN THE TURNING OF THE SEAS

ECHOS OF YOUR MAJESTY

HEAVEN

ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE

THE PROMISE THAT THERE’S MORE TO COME

ALL I AM CRIES OUT FOR MORE OF YOU

YOUR PRESENCE IS HEAVEN

OH TO BE WITH YOU

JUST TO BE WITH YOU

YOUR GLORY ALL AROUND ME

OH TO BE WITH YOU

I LOVE TO BE WITH YOU

OH OOH WO-OH

THERE’S A STIRRING IN MY SOUL

AND A FIRE HERE WITHIN

DEEP IS CALLING DEEP AGAIN

HEAVEN

HEAVEN COME FILL THIS PLACE

GLORY TO GLORY AND GRACE TO GRACE

HERE AND NOW YOUR KINGDOM COME

OUR GOD ETERNAL NOW AND FOREVERMORE

This is how Jesus taught us to pray, a passion for His presence calling out for Him to come. That longing in our soul actually is calling out for two distinct responses. First, our souls long for Him now. We need His intimacy, His strength, His wisdom, and we need His power. Our souls long for Him and find rest and fulfillment only in His presence. Secondly, our heart cries for His physical return to earth. Until He returns we will look through a glass darkly. When He comes to earth, we will know Him face to face. So Heaven come, and fill this place, glory to glory and grace to grace. 

ONE AND ONLY

May 3, 2016

John 1:14 ¶ And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 

Sometimes we take spiritual truths for granted. For example, what did the Father mean by calling Jesus His only begotten Son? Why did the Jewish leaders charge Jesus with blasphemy when He said He was the Son of God? I guess to understand this we must understand what it means to have a child. I remember the day my firstborn son was born and it dawned on me that I was a father. All of God’s creatures participate in something like this through procreation. Every creature reproduces after its kind. For God to have a begotten and not a created Son is quite unique. The Jewish leaders didn’t believe it but they clearly understood the implications. An uncreated, begotten Son would share the same essence as the Father. In other words, God’s Son is also God. Here is how Martin Luther described this mystery speaking of today’s scripture verse.
“This is the first time that John called the Word the only Son of the Father. You might have wondered who the Word was when John said, “In the beginning was the Word”, “Through him all things were made”, and “In him was life, and that life was the light of men”. In this passage you can see that the Word, who existed with the Father from eternity and is the light for humanity, is God’s only Son. The Word alone is the Son, and no one else. Now we know what John meant when he used the term Word. From verse 14 on, John will speak plainly about Christ’s kingdom. Up to this point, he spoke with strange and unusual words. They weren’t clear in any language. But now he says, “The Word is the one and only Son.”
But are not we also sons of God? Yes, but not the same as a begotten Son. We are created not begotten. We are the handiwork of the Father. We have become adopted sons according to the Apostle Paul. Rom. 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”” The good news is this, our adoption has caused us to be fellow heirs with Jesus, the Son of God. We have the same access to fellowship with the Father that Jesus has enjoyed for eternity. Words can’t describe it, all I can say is that it is better than we can even imagine. 

“The ever abiding constant River”

May 2, 2016

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS –

“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.” Psalms 46:4
It’ funny how still after all these years, I cannot seem to move away from “there is a river”. The river of his presence seems to remain a constant theme in my life. Just recently a portion of Canal St in New Orleans is closed because it has a gigantic sinkhole right at the end of it. Evidently there is a huge “river” of water flowing underground from broken water pipes. I pray you too have found this underground river of His cleansing, His ever flowing love and grace. 

Ralph Erskine says it this way; 

  “God the Father is the river: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13 .

  God the Son is the river, the fountain of salvation: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” Zechariah 13:1 .

  God the Spirit is the river: “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 7:38 4:14.

I have mentioned our property flooded a few months ago and it has been amazing to me the amount of sand that has been left behind. Also new shoots of bamboo are shooting up everywhere. Everywhere the river goes there is life. 

Exposition goes to say- “What are the streams of this river? Answer — the perfections of God, the fulness of Christ, the operations of the Spirit, and these running in the channel of the covenant of promise.”

 There is a river. Divine grace like a smoothly flowing, fertilizing, full, and never failing river, yields refreshment and consolation to believers. This is the river of the water of life, of which the church above as well as the church below partakes evermore. It is no boisterous ocean, but a placid stream, it is not stayed in its course by earthquakes or crumbling mountains, it follows its serene course without disturbance. Happy are they who know from their own experience that there is such a river of God.”

If you don’t watch out, one might grow tired of the river or ignore it; pretend that the river doesn’t exist. But as Christians we know “there is a river –it will have its way in our lives and hearts. It cannot be walled in or stopped. It will overflow its banks and take what it wants and leaves behind new life and new growth. 

Step into the river my friends–it’s streams will take you right into His presence. 

ELISIUM

May 1, 2016

Psa. 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
  to God my exceeding joy,

  and I will praise you with the lyre,

  O God, my God. 
Have you ever tasted Elysium? You know, that place of eternal joy that is promised to all Christians. You thought you had to die to go to heaven? Absolutely not. Don’t you remember what Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven is within you”? Paul said it like this, “the kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink (physical) but it is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”. There is that joy thing again. We aren’t supposed to wait until we actually die to step over into the joy of joys. Unspeakable joy is all around you now. 

Parris and I were recently teaching on the Great Awakening at the River Bible Institute in Tampa. As she was talking about Sarah Edwards I was reminded again of the intense, intimate joy that is poured out in revival. Here is a snippet of her story written by her husband trying to keep Sarah anonymous. 

“The soul in the meantime has been as it were perfectly overwhelmed, and swallowed up with light and love and a sweet solace, rest and joy of soul, that was altogether unspeakable; and more than once continuing for five or six hours together, without any interruption, in that clear and lively view or sense of the infinite beauty and amiableness of Christ’s person, and the heavenly sweetness of his excellent and transcendent love; so that (to use the person’s own expressions) the soul remained in a kind of heavenly Elysium, and did as it were swim in the rays of Christ’s love, like a little mote swimming in the beams of the sun, or streams of his light that come in at a window; and the heart was swallowed up in a kind of glow of Christ’s love, coming down from Christ’s heart in heaven, as a constant stream of sweet light, at the same time the soul all flowing out in love to him; so that there seemed to be a constant flowing and reflowing from heart to heart.” 
Sarah had been known to struggle with depression. Like all of us, dealing with day to day life (Sarah had eleven children) can be somewhat overwhelming. Sarah Edwards experienced an infusion of joy that changed everything for her. Her joy overflowed and her depression was gone. Today, you too can step into Elysium. Heaven’s joy is here now. Where do you find it? Of course it is in the presence of the Lord. 

THE PERFECT STORM

April 30, 2016

Joel 2:23 Be glad then, you children of Zion,
 And rejoice in the LORD your God;

 For He has given you the former rain faithfully,

 And He will cause the rain to come down for you—

 The former rain,

 And the latter rain in the first month. 

Recently, Parris and I experienced flooding in our home. Our house is on the Bogue Falaya River and we were caught in what you could say was the perfect storm. Our river empties into the Tchefuncte River which in turn empties into Lake Ponchartrain. There had been a strong east wind for several days which causes flooding at the mouth of the Tchefuncte. At the same time there was 17 inches of rain up river near Bogalusa, Louisiana. The result was an unprecedented flood crest that flooded our property and home. 

This week, I was in some meetings at The River in Tampa Bay when Rodney Howard Browne was describing this event, he called it a perfect storm. As he was speaking I began to feel impressed by the Lord that there was more here than just a story about a flood. I believe the Lord was saying that we are living on the edge of an unprecedented perfect spiritual storm in America. 

Just as certain things have to be in place at the same time to have unprecedented floods in the natural world, maybe the same is true in the spiritual realm. Could it be possible that the deterioration of the moral fabric of our country is actually providing the very atmosphere for the final Great Awakening in America? Maybe, the godless bent being promoted by our government, colleges, and the media is actually creating the very ingredients necessary for a major move of God. I think it is. I believe this current generation is developing an unprecedented hunger for God. Not just information about Him, or a set of rules or even a new creed or doctrine to live by. No, I am talking about a hunger for God Himself. This hunger is one of the ingredients for this perfect spiritual storm. 

The second ingredient is this, a local church that is primed and ready. I saw this at the River in Tampa and I believe I also see those ingredients at our home church in New Orleans. What are those ingredients? A focus on the Word of God, a passion for worship, freedom for the Holy Spirit to move in the services, and a passion for souls. All of us need some tweaking to prepare for the Perfect Storm. It is surely coming, I want to be ready. 

BRAINERD’S NEW BIRTH

April 29, 2016

John 3:3 ¶ Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

When Jesus shared this word to Nicodemus, “You must be born again”, Nicodemus had no idea what the Lord was saying. He replied, “How can I enter into my mother’s womb to be born again?” Jesus went on to share the greatest of all words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. This word is still the most important of all words. Have you been born again? I am not asking you if you have prayed the prayer, if you go to church, or even are you a member of a church. Have your eyes been opened to your need of a Savior? Has Christ come into your life? Are you experiencing the fruit that accompanies salvation. This new birth experience was at the heart of the Great Awakening. David Brainerd’s testimony is a great example of true conversion. Here is a portion of his testimony. 

“I stood still, wondered, and admired! I knew that I never had seen before anything comparable to it for excellency and beauty; it was widely different from all the conceptions that ever I had of God, or things divine. I had no particular apprehension of any one Person in the Trinity, either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost; but it appeared to be divine glory. My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that He should be God over all forever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was ever swallowed up in Him….Thus God, I trust, brought me to a hearty disposition to exalt Him and set Him on the throne, and principally and ultimately to aim at His honor and glory, as King of the universe….I felt myself in a new world, and everything about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do.”
Brainerd was transformed by the new birth experience. He saw God, himself, and his whole world from different eyes. That goes back to what Jesus said, if you are not born again you can’t see the kingdom of God. But the good news is this, when you are born again your whole view is drastically and permanently changed. So I ask the question again, have you been born again? If you have, you will know without a doubt. If you haven’t, it is time to call on the name of the Lord. 

BLESS THE LORD OH MY SOUL

April 28, 2016

Ps.103:1,2 ¶ Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: 
I have a Beagle named Phoebe that is an absolute riot. She wants to eat all the time (Parris insists she has a food addiction). There are two times a day when I actually feed her. She must have a clock in her belly because 5 minutes before feeding time she comes; first wanting attention and if that doesn’t work she barks. The point is this, the dog knows who her source is; me. Funny that dogs are smarter than humans in some ways. Phoebe never forgets where her dinner comes from; all of us often do. Our provision comes from the Lord. It doesn’t come from parents, jobs, government programs, or the scratch card at the convenience store. The Lord Himself supplies all of our needs. Here is How Martin Luther describes this phenomenon. 

“We all use God’s blessings every day, but we never think about where they come from—God. He is the one who gives us everything. Instead, we accept his gifts as if they simply appeared out of nowhere or as if we earned them through our own efforts, diligence, or wisdom. We think that God somehow owes us these things, and therefore we don’t need to thank him. Even animals don’t live that shamefully. Pigs recognize the person who gives them their food. They’ll run after her and cry to her. But the world doesn’t even recognize God, let alone thank and praise him for these blessings. If God’s people must be encouraged to praise him, how can the world be expected to do any better? It’s astounding how unwilling people are to acknowledge what God has done for them and to praise him for it.”
According to today’s verse our worship is connected to our provision. Rather than ignoring the Lord and looking to Him as a last resort, we keep Him right in front of us when we acknowledge His blessings with thanksgiving and praise. Really, this worship and thanksgiving flow out of spiritual revelation. One day the lights turn on and we see the goodness of the Lord and His love for us. We have no other recourse, we have to worship. In light of His greatness and His goodness we have to worship Him. Don’t waste another day, give thanks to the Lord today and watch His goodness flow into your life. 

DELIVERER AND SUSTAINER

April 27, 2016

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer . . .
My shield and the horn of my salvation. (Psalm 18:2)
Jesus is everything to us. David said that He was his fortress, deliverer, shield and horn of his salvation. In another Psalm David said that the Lord was his light, his salvation, and the strength of his life. As a young Christian I didn’t quite understand the depth and power of what David was saying. It seems like the tendency in our youthfulness is to trust in our own strength, talents, and abilities. It takes a while of walking with the Lord to see His strength and our weakness. The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize just how much I need His help. 

He is my light, He directs my path and keeps me from making foolish choices. He is my strength, He empowers me in all He has called me to do. He is my deliverer, He delivers me from the traps and snares in this world. He is my sustenance. I have learned to feast on Him to give me nourishment for my soul. Today’s quote comes from Billy Graham’s latest book. Listen to wisdom from a man who has walked with the Lord for many years.

“Jesus is not only the eternal Deliverer, but He is the eternal Sustainer. He provides for those who receive Him. Just as God had provided daily manna from Heaven to the children of Israel on their wilderness journey, so Jesus provides for the soul-hunger of people today. He was born in Bethlehem, which literally means “house of bread,” and proclaimed, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).

Jesus is also the everlasting Guide. The Lord led the Israelites through the Sinai Desert during the day with a pillar of cloud, and He provided light at night with a pillar of fire. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (8:12).”
Christianity is not a quick fix or seven steps to being a better you. It is a discovery of life itself (or should I say Himself). Walk with Him. Draw near to Him and feed on His faithfulness. Before long you will join with David’s song, “the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”.

PEACE – DOWN IN MY SOUL

April 26, 2016

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. 
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our

Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

1 Thes.5:23–24
It seems like the whole world is troubled, and from time to time this trouble spills over into chaos. Recently, an apparent road rage incident in New Orleans spilled over into gunfire. A beloved former New Orleans Saint, Will Smith, was killed in a shocking display of anger on world famous Magazine Street. Senseless is too small a word to describe this kind of violence. The scary thing is this, how much violence crouches just below the surface of many hearts today. Today’s scripture verse describes the only real answer to the dilemma we all find ourselves in, this verse displays the peace of God that flows out of a personal relationship with the Lord. Paul described a peace that effects our whole being; he said that our spirit, soul, and our body are effected by our intimate fellowship with the Lord. Paul knew about this peace and he was familiar with outbursts of violent, angry behavior. He had been that angry man before he was born again and he had been assaulted physically more times than he cared to remember for preaching the gospel by other angry men. Here are some comments from Andrew Murray on this peace from God. 

“As if he knows that the riches of promises of peace in the verse will be too much for us, Paul repeats and strengthens it in the second part of the verse: spirit, soul, and body: spirit, the inner core of one’s being, created to live in fellowship with God; soul, the center of life; and body, the means by which sin and death got a foot in the door, but which was made alive in Christ. And then he adds that God is faithful to keep the promise. All He asks is that you stay close to Him each day. As the sun warms your body, so the warmth of His nearness will awaken your devotion. May you experience this.”
So how is it with your soul today? Is there a storm brewing in your belly? Does anger sometimes feel as if it will spill over? This storm can be stilled by one word from Jesus; just like He spoke to storms on the Sea of Galilee He is still speaking to storms today. “Peace, be still.” As you draw near to Him you too will experience His peace through and through. Yep, you too can have God’s peace way down in your soul. 


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