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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. 

NO STAGGERING

July 25, 2015

 Rom. 4:19,20 He (Abraham) did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 
Paul’s letter to the Romans is all about faith. He talks about faith to faith, access by faith, living by faith, and in this verse, growing strong in faith. What exactly is this faith that Paul is describing? Some have called it ’blind faith’ but faith is anything but blind. Actually faith is the effect of the grace of God on our heart that causes us to finally see. So rather than blind, faith is living a life with your eyes, your real eyes, wide open. Faith is what happened to Paul on the Damascus road when He saw Christ, faith is what happened to Abraham as he counted the stars, and faith is what happened to Cornelius and his family while Peter was preaching. Faith perceives the unseen world as real. Faith is what John Newton described in his timeless song Amazing Grace. 

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see.” 

The problem is this, spiritually blind people don’t realize that they are blind. Even Christians with a blurred vision of God think they are seeing clearly. It is only by grace through faith that the light of God’s glory begins to shine into our hearts. Here are some thoughts from Gill’s Commentary. 

“…some of God’s children, through unbelief, do stagger at the promises of God; thinking either that they are too great for them, or demur upon them through difficulties which attend them: but so did not Abraham, he was strong in faith; nothing moved him, no difficulties discouraged him, he made no demur upon the promise, nor had the least hesitation in his mind about the accomplishment of it; but was fully assured that so it would be, as God had said; and thus he was giving glory to God; ascribing to him the glory of his veracity, faithfulness, power, grace, and goodness, as all such who are strong in faith do; such persons bring the most glory to God, and are the most comfortable in their own souls.” 
How can I believe God’s awesome promises like Abraham did? It is only by grace through faith; my eyes have to be opened by God. 

IMPARTATION

July 24, 2015

                                                            ROM. 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;  

I remember the first time I really gave attention to this scripture. It was a scripture shared with me by Dick Mills when he was planning a ministry trip to our church in New Orleans. For the first time I think I began to see the importance of spiritual impartation from the scriptures. Over the years impartation has played an extremely significant role in our ministry. Today, I want to reflect on several ways we can be impacted through spiritual impartation. 

First, I think of the preaching of the word of God. Preaching is about more than just receiving good practical information. Preaching God’s word is one of the major ways we receive spiritual impartation into our lives. I think of the sermon Peter preached at Cornelius’s, the Roman Centurion’s house. Peter was preaching about the death and resurrection of Jesus when the atmosphere in the room suddenly changed. Everyone in the room began to be powerfully impacted by the anointing. God’s gift of the Holy Spirit was being imparted to everyone in the house through the spoken word. 

Secondly, I think about the gift of prophesy. Many times throughout my Christian journey I have been powerfully impacted through a prophetic gift. I can remember sitting on the front row in a meeting near Dallas, Texas in August of 1994 when Rodney Howard Browne started to prophesy specifically to pastors who were in that meeting. As he prophesied under the anointing I felt as if someone was placing a literal coat upon my shoulders. I was receiving a powerful impartation through the gift of prophesy, my life and ministry were being permanently and dramatically changed. 

Another tool the Lord often uses is corporate anointing. Recently we were in some meetings at our church near New Orleans when, during worship, a powerful anointing came into the room. Suddenly, almost everyone in the house was being impacted by the powerful presence of the Lord. I heard a report today how a young man, James Widener Jr, was powerfully touched and felt as if someone was piling boats on top of him while he was on the floor. He was trying to describe the heaviness often felt when God’s glory fills the room. 

Finally, the spiritual impartation takes place through the laying on of hands. Jesus laid hands on people, the apostles often laid hands on people, and laying on of hands was actually treated as a doctrine of the early church. The laying on of hands transfers the anointing one person has received into other people’s lives. The key is for the right people to lay their hands on you. 

So put yourself in an environment to receive from God. There is much He wants to add to our lives. 

HE LOVES ME

July 23, 2015

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.JOHN 15:9
Parris and I have two dogs, a beagle named Phoebe and Rennie a Terrier mix. It’s funny how you can watch God’s little creatures and learn a lot about us humans. Every morning we have the little love ritual. Both dogs will not leave us alone until they get some love and attention. It seems that dogs are programed by the Lord in need of affection. It seems like all of God’s creatures have this need. 

Humans need to be loved. Humans are programed to need God’s love. Until we are experiencing God’s love for ourselves we are somehow incomplete. It is in intimacy with God that we finally find rest. Jesus came to make this possible. His final prayer for us before He died is that we could experience His Father’s love in the same way He does. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on God’s love.  
“The Lord gave His disciples a new commandment, that they should love one another, as He loved them. To this end He wanted them to know how much He loved them. He loved them with the same everlasting, unchangeable, and divine love that the Father had loved Him. It is with a love such as this that they were to love one another.

This thought is so overwhelming that it takes time to grasp its full meaning. Pray about it and let God’s Spirit make it a blessed reality in your life: We must love one another in the same way that the Father loved His Son. This love is not merely a feeling or a blessed experience, but a living divine power, flowing from the Father to the Son to the hearts of His disciples, and so streaming forth to the whole world. Meditate on this truth until you believe it, and you will receive the courage to confidently approach the throne of grace to receive the love that passes all understanding.”
It seems that our ability to love and to be loved are finally settled in Christ. We experience God’s love for us through the cross of Christ and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We also are freed to love others with the same love we have received. If you are having trouble fulfilling God’s command to love one another the solution is simple. Let the Lord love you. Get in His presence and drink His love, this will produce the life change to enable us to love others as Christ has loved us. 

A POTHEAD AND THE POWER OF PLEASURE

July 22, 2015

Rom. 5:17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. 

I often think about the way I was delivered from my sin of choice. I was a pot head, plane and simple, I loved to smoke weed before Christ set me free. I remember the dilemma I thought I was in the week just before I accepted Christ into my life. I knew He was real, I just couldn’t see giving up my sinful pleasure to follow Jesus. I couldn’t imagine going a day without pot, much less stopping totally. That’s when it happened. Jesus snuck up on me. I literally got caught by surprise by His love and simply, His reality. Christ came into my life and a miracle happened. My heart was changed. I lost my desire to smoke marijuana. Not only did I not want my sin of choice any longer, I wanted to follow Jesus. I just couldn’t get enough. I started devouring my Bible, going to Christian gatherings, and even sharing my faith. 

Shortly after my conversion I remember standing outside holding a bag of grass in my hands. I looked at it and started to laugh. It looked so pathetic now. I had changed, my heart had changed. I had found a greater pleasure. This new pleasure freed me from the shackles of sin. Here are some thoughts about liberation from sin by the pleasures of God by Sam Storms. 

“Here’s my point. How do you fight the pleasure of sin? I’ll tell you: with another pleasure. Holiness is not attained, at least not in any lasting, life-changing way, merely through prohibitions, threats, fear, or shame-based appeals. Holiness is attained by believing in, trusting, banking on, resting in, savoring, and cherishing God’s promise of a superior happiness that comes only by falling in love with Jesus. The power that the pleasures of sin exerts on the human soul will ultimately be overcome only by the superior power of the pleasure of knowing and being known, loving and being loved by God in Christ. Or again, the only way to conquer one pleasure is with another, superior, more pleasing pleasure!”
So what happened to the pot? I flushed it down the toilet of course. Almost forty two years have come and gone and the pleasure of God is sweeter and sweeter in my life. What kind of pleasure has you ensnared? I know the way out. It is not in rules or dogmas. The way out is by tasting the sweetness of Christ. It will ruin your appetite for the sins of this world. 
 

WATERMARK

July 21, 2015

 “Watermarks-When the Arrows are Beyond”

A VERY MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-
“And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee?” 

1 Sam. 20:35-37

WATERMARKS are when our lives take on a suddenly that leaves a mark on us that changes us forever. When we allow the watermarks of God, our lives take on a song that forever keeps singing. These encounters can embitter or transform. The Bible is full of such watermarks, David ran into caves to hide, but in the those caves God met him. Moses had his burning bush, and Joseph his prison along with being ruler in Egypt. Enlargement usually has a price tag. 

The day David saw those arrows shoot beyond the amour bearer, his life changed forever. It would by years before David would live as he once did. Listen to F.B. MEYER explain David’s thoughts when he saw those arrows go beyond. 

“You have hoped against hope, you have tried to keep your position, you have done your duty, pleaded your cause, sought the intercession of your friends, prayed, wept agonized: but all in vain; the arrow’s plight proves that you must go whither you may. Behind you is the sunny morning, before you is the louring sky; behind you the blessed fellowship, wife, home, royal favor and popular adulation, before you an outcast’s life. The heart clings to the familiar and beloved. But the message of those arrows cannot be resisted. There is no alternative but to tear yourself away, take your life in your hand, and go forth.”

Sometimes our life takes a change and it’s how we embrace it that charts the next course of our lives. In Ps. 57:1 we pick up with David running from Saul, he finds a cave to hide in. “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpass” 

Treasury of David says, “This is a song from the bowels of the earth, and, like Jonah’s prayer from the bottom of the sea, it has a taste of the place. The poet is in the shadow of the cave at first, but he comes to the cavern’s mouth at last, and sings in the sweet fresh air, with his eye on the heavens, watching joyously the clouds floating therein.” I pray you too when you see those “arrows go beyond”, are able to catch God’s wings carrying you through and see his WATERMARK. 

MAXIMIZE YOUR PLEASURE

July 20, 2015

Phil. 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. 

Have you ever thought about why it is tough to resist sin? Now for each of us some sins are more difficult than others. Some may tend to fall into gambling while someone else has no interest. Others may lean toward alcohol or drugs as their temptation of choice while others have no attraction to those sorts of things. Still others seem to gravitate toward sexual promiscuity or possibly pornography; the truth is that sin has a strong allurement connected to it. What is the strange attraction to sin, it is the promise of pleasure. It is joy that sin always manages to promise. 

So how can one overcome their sins of choice? Is it will power or just making a quality decision? Sorry to say human will has no power over the temptations of sin. Our wills are enslaved to sin until we meet Christ. Actually it is the promise of joy in God that liberates us from the snares of sin. It is in the enjoyment of God that the power of sin loses its hold on us. How can that be? The enjoyment of God is so superior to the foolish pleasures of sin that there is no contest. We are freed by the power of His love. Sam Storms describes the power of pleasure in God in this quote from his book ‘Pleasures Evermore’. 

“We succumb; we give in; we say yes to sin because we believe its promise of more pleasure than God gives. This leads me to the simple conclusion that the only way for us to successfully resist sin is by maximizing our pleasure in God. The key to victory over sin is satisfaction with all that God is for us in Jesus. Or again, the only way to fight the seductive power of one pleasure is with a greater pleasure, a more pleasing pleasure, the pleasure that comes from falling in love with Jesus.”

How does this truth work in the real world? Think how you fall into your sin of choice. You open yourself up to allurement from being in the wrong place looking at the wrong things. We have to put ourselves in the way of spiritual allurement. Look on Christ in His word, at church, and in worship and you will be drawn in by His beauty. You too will discover the attractiveness of Christ and experience freedom from the power of sin. 


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