October 23, 2016
Heb. 9:12 and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption.
Have you noticed the more modern and ‘relevant’ church becomes, the more it loses it’s power and its relevance in our lives. For example, have you heard a sermon recently on the power of the blood of Jesus? Do you understand the significance of the communion table and the power that resides there? The blood of Jesus is at the heart of this struggle. Without the blood we have lost our power. The mysteries of God are all connected to the precious blood of Jesus. His blood speaks to us today; what is it saying. First, that God became a man. He took upon Himself flesh and bones to redeem a fallen race. Secondly, it speaks of forgiveness. It is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from our sin. It also speaks of the justice of God. It pleased the Father to bruise the Son because in His suffering God’s judgement on sin was complete, justice was satisfied. The blood speaks to us about the wickedness of man as man poured out his anger on the precious Son of God. The blood also speaks about redemption and how we can all have a brand new start. The list is endless; the blood speaks about the healing of our bodies, deliverance from the curse of poverty, and reconciliation between man and man. It also points us to the best benefit of all, access into intimacy and fellowship with God. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on the blood of Jesus.
“His own blood. I know of no word in the Bible or in human speech that contains such mysteries! In it are concentrated the mysteries of the incarnation, in which our God took flesh and blood; of the obedience unto death, in which the blood was shed; of the love that passeth knowledge, that purchased us with His own blood; of the victory over every enemy, and the everlasting redemption; of the resurrection and the entrance into heaven; of the atonement and the reconciliation and the justification that came through it; of the cleansing and perfecting of the conscience, of the sprinkling of the heart and the sanctifying the people. Through that blood Christ entered once for all into heaven; through that blood we enter too, and have our home in the Holiest of All.”
So just call me old fashioned. I still like my Bible (the one with real leather and paper), I love the cross on the wall in church, preaching from a pulpit, altar calls, and worshipping until the glory falls. I especially like to hear about the precious blood of Jesus.
October 22, 2016
Luke 17:15,16 ¶ And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
This is one of the great miracles of Jesus recorded in the Bible. If you are not observant you may miss the real miracle. Of course the healing of leprosy was spectacular just as all of God’s miracles are, but the greatest miracle in this story was not so spectacular. It was more of a hidden, mysterious miracle. It was the miracle of a thankful heart. All ten of these lepers were physically healed and got to return to their lives. Only one saw Jesus for who He really is. Who is He? He is not only the healer of bodies but the healer of broken hearts. Our hearts are all broken, paralyzed by sin. This one leper understood what had happened and Who Jesus is. Leprosy was a picture of man’s sinful condition. The physical healing was a picture of the miracle of Calvary. He bore my sins as well as my sicknesses in His body on the cross. Only one leper got the real miracle, the miracle of a thankful heart. Here is how Matthew Henry describes it.
“How rich Christ is in doing good: Were there not ten cleansed? Here was a cure by wholesale, a whole hospital healed with one word’s speaking. Note, There is an abundance of healing cleansing virtue in the blood of Christ, sufficient for all his patients, though ever so many. Here are ten at a time cleansed; we shall have never the less grace for others sharing it. How poor we are in our returns: “Where are the nine? Why did not they return to give thanks?” This intimates that ingratitude is a very common sin. Of the many that receive mercy from God, there are but few, very few, that return to give thanks in a right manner (scarcely one in ten), that render according to the benefit done to them. How those often prove most grateful from whom it was least expected. A Samaritan gives thanks, and a Jew does not. Thus many who profess revealed religion are out-done, and quite shamed, by some that are governed only by natural religion, not only in moral value, but in piety and devotion.”
The Samaritan was a picture of the unchurched crowd today. Often the lost get it sooner than church folks, Christ died to save sinners. When you see it you too will receive the heart of Thanksgiving.
October 21, 2016
PSA. 116:17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the LORD.
True spirituality is all about the heart. The world is filled with religious activities that really mean nothing to God. One of the most terrifying passages of scripture is found in Amos 5. It says,
“Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.”
I think the Lord gets really tired of religious observances that have nothing to do with the heart. Now don’t misunderstand, the Lord loves worshippers. He even says He is looking for worshippers. The truth is He is only looking for one kind of worshipper; the authentic kind. He is looking for worshippers who worship in Spirit and in truth. That brings us to this question, ” How does one receive an authentic heart of worship?” Actually it is connected to giving thanks. When we recognize the kindness and mercy of God our hearts are filled with thanksgiving that spills over in worship and praise. This is the work of God’s grace in our souls. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on giving thanks to the Lord.
“Being thy servant, I am bound to sacrifice to thee, and having received spiritual blessings at thy hands I will not bring bullock or goat, but I will bring that which is more suitable, namely, the thanksgiving of my heart. My inmost soul shall adore thee in gratitude. And will call upon the name of the Lord, that is to say, I will bow before thee reverently, lift up my heart in love to thee, think upon thy character, and adore thee as thou dost reveal thyself. He is fond of this occupation, and several times in this Psalm declares that he will call upon the name of the Lord, while at the same time he rejoices that he had done so many a time before. Good feelings and actions bear repeating: the more of hearty callings upon God the better.”
So that’s it, true religion by definition is a religion of the heart. It is not so much about the outward performance but the thankful heart poured out to God. Give thanks to the Lord, offer Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving, the offering of your heart.
October 20, 2016
Heb. 8:1,2 – Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
The heavenly ministry of Jesus cannot be overestimated or over emphasized; His present day ministry is the source of our heavenly life. When Jesus entered into heaven as a man He entered for us. Not only did He bring His blood as an offering before the Father, He sat down at the right hand of God. This was not new for the Son of God, He had been with the Father from eternity. This was new for fallen man. Not only are our sins forgiven, we now have access into the heavenly places, the heavenly life, right now. We are seated together with Him at the right hand of the Father. This heavenly life is what was purchased for us on the cross. The fact that the man, Jesus of Nazareth, remains in the Father’s presence is my hope. He is called the anchor of hope that has entered behind the veil. Here is how Andrew Murray describes this heavenly life and access.
“We have said before that the great characteristic of our Priest-King, of His salvation and His life, is its heavenliness. Jesus is passed through the heavens, made higher than the heavens, seated on the throne in the heavens, in order that He might open the kingdom of heaven to us. Heaven, we have said before, is not only a place, but a state of life; the kingdom of heaven can come to us here on earth in power, and be set up within our hearts…All Jesus is, is heavenly; all the gifts He bestows, all the work He does, all the life He breathes, all the power He exercises is exclusively heavenly… As the heavenliness of the redemption and the life in Jesus is revealed by the Holy Spirit in the heart, heavenliness, its purity, its power, its love, its worship, its blessedness, will be the characteristic of our religion.”
This is the solution to all of life’s dramas. Rather than floundering in the dark places of this fallen culture and world we can rise up into this heavenly life that has been offered to us. We do have a Priest King in heaven, His very existence guarantees the promise of heavenly life.
October 19, 2016
Heb. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
How can a leopard change his spots? Of course we know that is impossible. How can a human change his heart? That too is impossible; unless? Unless there is a God encounter. Humans are basically flawed. Something is haywire in our DNA. We carry a significant flaw in who we are that has been passed down from our first parents. Let’s face it, the human race is a fallen race. That is the whole point of the Bible, redemption, and the whole God so loved the world thing. Unless a man is born again he will never see the kingdom of God. When we have that God encounter not only are our sins forgiven, we are changed. We actually take on a new nature when we are born again. Our heart is changed; in effect, the leopard has changed his spots. Actually someone else changed his spots for him. Here is how Andrew Murray describes this new and better covenant that makes us better people.
“The promise of the new covenant is to convert the external law into an inner life, to put it so in the heart that it shall be its inmost life, so that, as naturally as the heart wills and lives and acts on earth, it shall will and live and do what God demands. Why does an acorn so spontaneously grow up into an oak? Because the law of the oak is written in the heart of the acorn. The life of every creature acts with delight in accordance with the law of its Creator, that is, its inner nature. God and His holiness, Christ and His Holy Spirit, if they belong to us, must be as near to us, as essentially within us, as truly inherent in our own life, as our own thinking, willing, and feeling. And so God promises that He will put His law in our minds and write it in our hearts, in such a way that it shall be our inner nature, our very life, and we shall act according to it as naturally as we think or live.”
So there it is, we all were born in need of radical transformation. The question begging to be asked; have you experienced this transformation of your heart?
October 18, 2016
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and spoke the word of God boldly.
There is something special about Christian brothers and sisters moving together in unity. In Psalms 133 it is called the place of commanded blessing. David compared it to the oil being poured on the first high priest, Aaron. Of course this awakens visions in our heads about Jesus, our Heavenly High Priest, and the heavenly anointing oil poured upon His head.
That first scene of commanded blessing in the New Testament is seen on the Day of Pentecost. The followers of Jesus are in one accord, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon everyone in the house. The results? Commanded blessing. Thousands of people gather in response to the sounds of celebration, 3000 come to Christ that first day. There is something about unified spiritual hunger that produces incredible outpourings of the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on the power of unity.
“The power of union can clearly be seen in nature. A single drop of rain cannot be compared with many drops that become a stream. Speedily the stream’s momentum becomes irresistible. Such is the power of true union in prayer. The world can be overcome with the power of united prayer. In KwaZulu-Natal, owing to the many mountains, the streams often flow down with great force. The Zulu are accustomed to joining hands when they wish to pass through a stream. The leader has a strong stick in his right hand, and gives his left hand to some strong man who comes behind him. And so they form a chain of twelve or twenty and help each other to cross the current safely. When God’s people reach out to others, there will be power to resist the overwhelming influence of the world. And in that unity God’s children, when they have overcome the power of the world and the flesh, will have power to prevail with God.”
So if you are experiencing a dry season in your Christian faith it could be from this, isolating yourself from the body of Christ. Joining our faith and our fervency together with other believers taps into the very power source of the Almighty. Join yourself to a good church. Join yourself to a group of believers who are hungry for God Himself. In that place of unity you too will experience the power of His presence.
October 17, 2016
MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS
Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.
1 Kings 17:9
This is such an interesting story where two people have to work together to see the God of supply. Elijah was living by a brook that just dried up when the Lord redirected him to a widow for provision. We have to also think about the widow out there collecting sticks for her last meal to feed her son. They were on a collision course with providence. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” (Proverbs 11:24) Regardless whether you’re a prophet or a widow, God loves to use his own math. When God steps in, supernatural supply goes a long way, beyond expectation. Throughout the life of a person, you can be a hoarder and lose it all, or open your hand and see supernatural supply. His promises become our divine supply. Even when Jesus watched the widow give her mite He knew blessing would come to her. He sees, He knows and He supplies in the most mysterious ways.
The Bible never states what happen to the widow but its clear she found herself “in a pit, with a lion on a snowy day” (1 Chron.11:22) She faced the lion when her husband died and came up getting a miracle of a different kind. Welcome to God mathematics. The lion could have devoured her but instead she turned into a giver instead of hoarding her pain. Then we have Elijah running for his life when he had Jezebel issues. God had a quiet conversation about small things and Elijah learns to live off bird food.
Last week we hosted yet another ‘Mary’s Song’ Banquet surrounded by supporters and graduates. Walking around taking pictures with our ‘Mary’s Song’ staff, talking with friends who got behind this crazy dream of sticks, and reuniting with our girls, I saw how he loves to work his math. Again, he uses bird-food, meal, sticks, axes that float; you name it. God might pair you up with the least expectant candidate to show you his math table of supply. He most likely will use the weirdest stuff to get you to see more of His abundance and His love. Instead of looking around for sticks, He brings the wine and bread of life to us in everyday places. Be willing to live in a world of thankful and you just never know what will happen in God’s world of math.
October 16, 2016
By what power, or in what name, have ye done this?
Revelation is incredible, it never stops; it comes to us in waves. Over the last several months I have been thinking again and again about something I have known for a long time, but has recently become more precious and real to me by revelation from the Holy Spirit. That something is this, when Jesus became a man, He became a man permanently. He is still a man. What is the significance of that? He represents me as a man before the Father and He rules the universe as a man. He has been given the authority that has always been His as the Son of God as the Son of Man; as a result, a man is ruling the universe. Now there is even better news, He has given us authority to live and pray in His Name; absolutely unthinkable. Here are some thoughts from Watchman Nee on this very subject.
“Our eyes must be opened to see the mighty change wrought by the ascension. The name of Jesus certainly establishes the identity of the One in the throne with the Carpenter of Nazareth, but it goes further than that. It represents the power and dominion before which every knee in heaven and earth and beneath the earth must bow. Even the Jewish leaders recognized that there could be this kind of significance in a mere name, when they asked this question of the disciples concerning the lame man’s healing.
Today the name tells us that God has committed all authority to His Son, so that in the very name itself there is power. But further, not only is it His, but it is “given among men.” He has placed that authority in our hands for us to use. In three passages in His last discourse, the Lord Jesus repeats the words “ask in my name.” What confidence He must place in us to say “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do”!”
This is the beauty and power of redemption. Not only has the fallen race of man been forgiven and reconciled to fellowship with God, we have been brought to the unthinkable place of ruling with Christ for eternity. This is surely amazing grace. I have been justified by grace, reconciled into His family, and seated together with Him in heavenly places all to magnify His amazing grace.
October 15, 2016
John 14:20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
This was one of the first passages I was asked to memorize in my Bible School days. It is one of those simple, yet profound teachings of Jesus. He was able to say things in a few words that contained an entire theological system buried inside of them. This is one of those sayings.
First, He speaks of He Himself being in the Father. This is another glimpse of the profound mystery of the trinity. If we have seen Him, we have seen the Father. He is the radiance of the Father’s Glory. He is the very image of God Almighty. He is the very imprint of His nature. Jesus is absolutely God.
Secondly, He said that we would be in Him. We have been immersed into Him by the baptism in the Holy Sprit, that is the whole context of this teaching. We are in Christ. In Christ we find our identity, in Christ we are redeemed by His blood, in Christ we bear much fruit, in Christ we find our refuge and rest, by us being in Christ, God is glorified. This is David’s hiding place and the place Jesus was speaking about when He went to prepare a place for us. He is our dwelling place.
Finally, Christ said He would be inside of us. This is the very heart of why Jesus came. He said unless a man is born again He will never see the kingdom of God. When Christ comes into our lives we experience regeneration. Our whole life changes. We are no longer slaves of sin, Christ is inside of us now, living this brand new life in us that we can never live ourselves. The old life is over, a new life has begun.
Jesus said we would begin to see the depth of this powerful revelation in “that day”. What day was He speaking of? Of course He was talking about the day of the Holy Spirit that began on the day of Pentecost and continues up to now. It is His Spirit that gives us understanding of this profound divine revelation. So that’s it, Jesus is in the Father, I am in Him, and He is in me. That changes everything.
October 14, 2016
Rom. 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
One of the sure evidences of my conversion was a new sense of peace that immediately took over my life. It was really quite comical, I had been a worrier all of my life. For whatever reason I was stuck on a negative, you might say pessimistic, bent very early in my life. I was sort of of the belief that if anything could go wrong it probably would. I would then find myself worrying about the different things that might go wrong. The Lord fixed that. Now don’t get me wrong, if I don’t keep my spiritual batteries charged I can still go negative really quickly. The point is this, there was an immediate, dramatic change in my life. Jesus became the God of peace in my life. Here are some thoughts on the God of peace from Matthew Henry.
“The titles he gives to God: The God of peace, the author and giver of all good. When we come to God for spiritual victories, we must not only eye him as the Lord of hosts, whose all power is, but as the God of peace, a God at peace with us, speaking peace to us, working peace in us, creating peace for us. Victory comes from God more as the God of peace than as the God of war; for, in all our conflicts, peace is the thing we must contend for. God, as the God of peace, will restrain and vanquish all those that cause divisions and offenses, and so break and disturb the peace of the church.”
Matthew Henry has a great understanding of this supernatural peace that God gives. He says first that He is at peace with us. How did this happen? He removed the barrier to our peace with God which was our sin. Since we are justified by faith in His sacrificial blood, we have peace with God. He also speaks peace to us, the word of God is filled with promises that quiet the storms in our lives. Bask in His word and peace will comfort your soul. He works peace in us, Christ is the Prince of Peace and His Spirit inhabits us filling our whole being with a supernatural peace that cannot be described. Finally, He creates peace for us. He goes before us and defeats our enemies. No weapon formed against us will prosper. Wow, the God of Peace is crushing Satan under our feet.