BE STONG IN THE LORD

BE STRONG IN THE LORD

Eph. 6:10 ¶ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

We have been in a series of nightly services at our church. Daily meetings are critical when you want your church to go deeper in God. There is just no replacement for spending time in the anointing, that is the place that the promise of change related to “glory to glory” takes place. Our speaker in these meetings has been Tim Hall; an international, Australian, crusade evangelist. Brother Tim carries quite a dose of Australian humor along with a strong healing mantle from The Lord. There have been many salvations and some quite powerful physical healings. These healings have ranged from bones and tendons being healed in a foot, chronic back pain, shoulders, acid reflux, tumors, really too many types of healings to list. Our God is incredibly powerful and willing to heal those afflicted by pain and sickness. In one of the services Brother Tim spoke on ‘Be strong in The Lord…” from Ephesians. Here are some comments from Wuest on that passage.

“Be strong” is endunamoō, “to make strong, to endue with strength.” The idea is, “to clothe one’s self with strength as one puts on a garment.” Here the verb is in the passive voice, “be continually strengthened.” The qualifying phrase, “in the Lord,” defines the strengthening as Christian strengthening, such as can take effect only in union with the Lord (Expositors). The rendering, “be strong,” could encourage one to self-effort at being strong, whereas the translation “be strengthened,” causes the saint to depend on the Lord for the supply of that strength.

“Power” is kratos, “relative or manifested power,” and “might” is ischuos, “power as an enduement.” The idea is, “in the active efficacy of the might that is inherent in Him.”
Translation: Finally, be constantly strengthened in the Lord and in the active efficacy of the might that is inherent in Him.”

I love what Wuest said about being clothed with supernatural strength as one puts on a garment. The power of God is real and is closely associated with the anointing. Jesus Himself told His followers in Luke 24: 49 that they would be “clothed” with power from on high. He was referring to the Baptism in the Holy Spirit which the disciples received just ten days after that promise was given. After the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to move in the power of God. Signs, wonders, and miracles; the display of the power of God, became a very normal part of the Christian experience. So should it be today. What is the missing link? The missing link is failure to be clothed with His Spirit. We must follow Paul’s admonition, “Be strong in The Lord and in the power of His might”. As we saw this week in daily demonstration, the power of God has not passed away or diminished but is available for whosever will. Let’s press on to know The Lord. Maybe, just maybe, there is more of God available for each of us than we have ever known.

Advertisements

THE PROPHETIC ALMOND TREE

THE PROPHETIC ALMOND TREE

Jer. 1:11-12 ¶ Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” ¶ And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” ¶ Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.”

I used to look forward to my New Years phone call from Dick Mills. He would call me often throughout the year, but that New Years call always had a prophetic edge to it. The one I received in January 2000 was probably the most incredible of all the calls. Brother Mills gave me today’s verses, Jeremiah 1:11, 12. He then asked me if I understood the significance of the almond tree in Jeremiah’s prophesy. I told him I did not know the significance of the almond tree vision. He then went on to explain to me what the almond tree meant. In Israel, the almond tree would be the first tree to harvest its crop its year. The significance was this, the harvest of the almond tree was an indication of the size of the harvest of the rest of the farmer’s crops. In that sense, the almond tree was a watchman or prophetic. When I heard that word explained I immediately understood the application for our ministry. Unknown to Brother Mills, we had just begun the production of Beyond the Grave on October 31, 1999. I was hearing The Lord say that Beyond the Grave was an almond tree. It was not the harvest but the prophetic sign of the supernatural harvest yet to come. Here is a quote from the Fire Bible about this powerful verse.

“BRANCH OF AN ALMOND TREE. In ancient Israel, the almond tree was the first tree to bud in the spring. This vision suggested two things: (1) The word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah would be fulfilled rapidly and (2) the people would recognize that God was alive and was guiding the course of history to fulfill his purposes (compare the reference to Aaron’s staff that produced almonds, Nu 17:1–10).”

Beyond the Grave has been performed continuously at our church in Metairie since October of 1999. We just had our first performance of this school year last week, the results were staggering. As we start the fifteenth season of BTG I have to remember this prophesy. The harvest we have seen (over 65,000 new convert books given out at the altars) has populated the churches of the Greater New Orleans area. This BTG harvest is just the almond tree harvest. It is the prophetic sign from The Lord of the coming harvest. This coming harvest is sure, it will be utterly supernatural. It can’t be planned, it can’t be organized, its arrival is sure. This prophesy is being guaranteed by The Lord, He says he will “watch over” (NASB) His word to perform it. The KJV says He will “hasten” His word. Not only is this prophesy guaranteed, it will come about suddenly.

ALL IN A DAY

“ALL IN A DAY”

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 8:12

It’s crazy how things can change in a week or even in a day. Last Monday kicked off a rough week for me and our church family. We had two funerals with loved ones that died suddenly way before their time. On top of that we as a church were fasting for the killings of Christian’s worldwide (Kenya, Pakistan and Syria). Then Beyond the Grave 2013-14 opening season performance was due to show last Friday for the 15th year going and revival meetings would start this week. I guess you could call it a “HOLY GHOST GUMBO” of prayer, intensity, sorrow and warfare. Paul talks about this in 2 Cor.11:27 “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”
Adam Clarke says of this verse in John: “Like the sun, it is my business to dispense light and heat every where; and to neglect no opportunity that may offer to enlighten and save the bodies and souls of men.”
All this pressure culminated Friday night at a packed house of Beyond the Grave. In the middle of the production I sensed that this was a grand slam by the grace of God. All new cast filled with teenagers being used by God. I knew that altar call would be huge with over 400 young people rushing to the altar; 30 got water baptized. One of the girls I talked to was threatening to lose her child, said the father of the baby was “no good” and when I asked about her parents, she replied “my father shot my mother”. Yes, the night will come soon enough but as for now we work with all of our might. The next night was the beginning of our revival with Tim Hall. One of the Marysong girls brought her unbelieving father to the meetings who had been on disability for back pain. He made it clear to his daughter that he wouldn’t do “anything weird”. He gets called out of his seat and ends up on the floor—-healed of back pain. He comes back the next night still healed and gives his life over to The Lord along with his girlfriend. Now they want to get married.
This Monday I found myself almost all by myself in Audubon Park because of the light rain. I felt His presence all around me, so different from the week before. Sometimes, well all the time, we must remain at our posts. He is the God of the breakthrough—-there is always a payoff. That Marysong girl just saw the beginning of it. Yes, I like the rain…….

HERE WE GO AGAIN

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Acts 3:19-21 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

The Lord promised that there would be seasons of renewal in preparation for His coming. It seems clear that the season just before His return could be characterized as “the best of times and the worst of times”. It is the worst of times because of the birth pangs of creation itself and the increase of demonic activity as the end of this age comes upon us. Of course it is the best of times because The Lord has saved His best wine for last. The days just before the Lord’s return promise to be filled with a great move of the Holy Spirit. Of all the times of refreshing throughout church history these times will be the best. Here is some commentary from the Life in Spirit Commentary.

“…Peter mentions two additional benefits. “Times of refreshing [will] come from the Lord.” For years the Jews have been expecting the messianic age, the golden age of blessings. The prophets themselves spoke about the coming of spiritual strength and blessings. This new age has dawned with the coming of Christ. Peter’s “times of refreshing” is one way of speaking about the baptism in the Spirit. The people can now experience the renewal or “refreshing” of their souls through the joys and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result of their repentance, not only will their sin be forgiven and they will receive relief from their guilt, but they will also experience spiritual renewal through the Holy Spirit.
The second benefit of turning from sin to Christ is the return of Jesus from heaven. God appointed Jesus beforehand to be the Messiah of the Jews. Peter reminds his hearers that as Jesus taught, his second coming will not take place immediately. A period of time must lapse before his return to this earth. Until that day Jesus makes his home in heaven. But when he comes again, God will “restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Then will take place the fullness of renewal—the restoration of all things.”

The baptism in the Spirit evidenced by the heavenly language has fallen out of popularity in our new version of 21st Century modernism. Slick programs, short services, and cute cliches have replaced altar calls, speaking in other tongues, healing, and casting out of demons. I think that is about to come to an abrupt end. Another generation is coming forward that has never seen a true time of refreshing from The Lord. The spiritual storm clouds have gathered on the horizon, the wind from another world has begun to blow, times of refreshing from the presence of The Lord are upon us.

JUST AND THE JUSTIFIER

JUST AND THE JUSTIFIER

Just, and the justifier of him which believes.
Romans 3:26

We live in a generation that has moved to one side of the equation of Christ being “just and the justifier”. The modern popular preachers love to expound on and on about grace, favor, blessings: you know, all the stuff God does for His people. That should be preached, after all His grace is limitless. The problem is this, when grace is preached and the message of justice and holiness is ignored, a wrong image of God is portrayed. The end result is not the good news of the gospel. Christ is not only the justifier, He is also just. If The Lord ignores the sinfulness of man He is no longer just, this would violate His very nature. The holiness of God is preserved and displayed beautifully at the cross. God’s hatred for sin, His divine justice is displayed as He judges man’s sin by the death of His Son at calvary. Christ bore the wrath of God; that is what enables the grace of God to be offered to all who believe on Him. Here is how Charles Spurgeon explains it.

“Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins, with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of his people to the last jot and tittle, and received the divine receipt; and unless God can be so unjust as to demand double payment for one debt, no soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can ever be cast into hell. It seems to be one of the very principles of our enlightened nature to believe that God is just; and this gives us our terror at first; but is it not marvelous that this very same belief that God is just, becomes afterwards the pillar of our confidence and peace! If God be just, I, a sinner, alone and without a substitute, must be punished; but Jesus stands in my stead and is punished for me; and now, if God be just, I, a sinner, standing in Christ, can never be punished. God must change his nature before one soul, for whom Jesus was a substitute, can ever by any possibility suffer the lash of the law. Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer-having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that his people ought to have suffered as the result of sin, the believer can shout with glorious triumph, Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Not God, for he hath justified; not Christ, for he hath died, yea rather hath risen again.”

If you are born again, no matter what your past holds, you stand without sin before The Lord. This is made possible by the satisfaction of God’s anger against sin by the punishment of His Son in our place. What a powerful truth that Paul preached, “He is just and the justifier to Him that believes”.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN HELL?

DO YOU BELIEVE IN HELL?

Matt. 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Without much thought, many Christians would say that they believe in hell. The problem becomes apparent when you start bringing hell into the real world where all of us live. Suddenly, many will show themselves as closet universalists, not understanding the just and the justifier thing. Christ died to save sinners, that is obvious. The problem is you have to recognize your sinfulness before you can receive His mercy. Hell is where all mankind is heading without the intervention of God that comes with repentance and the gift of salvation. Hell has been a hot topic (excuse the pun) for a long time. Jonathan Edwards received much criticism about his sermon, “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God”. People don’t want to admit they are sinners and their version of God is not ever angry. Here is a short excerpt from Edward’s famous sermon.

“There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything to take hold of: there is nothing between you and hell but the air; ’tis only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up. You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but don’t see the hand of God in it, but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it. Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock.”

The most powerful evangelism tool The Lord has ever given us at Victory Fellowship is the production “Beyond the Grave”. What started as a weekend production for the youth at our church has taken on a life of its own. It still going on fourteen years after the initial production. Over 300,000 have seen it and over 65,000 have made decisions for Christ. What has been the key to its longevity. To me it has to do with the fact that inside of all of us we know that heaven and hell are very real. When people are confronted with the possibility that they could experience eternal hell fire, the results are staggering.

20130927-230615.jpg

DR.QUACK

DR.QUACK

Gal. 3:6-7 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

The righteousness of God is a great mystery. It’s not until we discover how sinful we really are that we actually receive the righteousness of God. Righteousness can never be earned, it is given as a free gift. I remember when this mystery of righteousness began to settle in on me. It was the summer of 1973. At that time I lived by myself in a small shotgun house out in the woods just a short distance from Slidell, Louisiana. Hanging just above my kitchen table was a picture of Jerusalem with Christ hanging on the cross. Every time I ate at that table I would sit and stare at that cross. Gradually, the message began to sink in. I became convicted of my sinfulness. Suddenly, I knew I was a sinner in need of a Savior. That first step toward righteousness had been crossed. Shortly after this I was witnessed to at the lakefront in New Orleans. I was finally ready. I could now receive Christ. I was ready to receive the gift of righteousness. Jesus was washing away my sin. Martin Luther struggled mightily over this word “righteousness”. It was when he discovered that righteousness is a gift of grace received by faith that everything changed. Here is Luther sharing about righteousness from his commentary on Galatians.

“We comfort the afflicted sinner in this manner: Brother, you can never be perfect in this life, but you can be holy. He will say: “How can I be holy when I feel my sins?” I answer: You feel sin? That is a good sign. To realize that one is ill is a step, and a very necessary step, toward recovery. “But how will I get rid of my sin?” he will ask. I answer: See the heavenly Physician, Christ, who heals the broken-hearted. Do not consult that Quackdoctor, Reason. Believe in Christ and your sins will be pardoned. His righteousness will become your righteousness, and your sins will become His sins.
Do you now see how faith justifies without works? Sin lingers in us, and God hates sin. A transfusion of righteousness therefore becomes vitally necessary. This transfusion of righteousness we obtain from Christ because we believe in Him.”

Dr. Quack, reason, says righteousness is what we do. Christ offers the gift of righteousness to all that will receive it by faith. From the moment that we see our sinfulness, Christ’s righteousness, and His offer of salvation; our life is forever changed. No matter what our past looked like we stand clean before The Lord.
Now here is the rest of the good news. He doesn’t leave us in the condition that got us into our mess. He not only forgives us, He changes us. The righteousness of Christ is not only on us but in us. We can now live a different kind of life. We can now live in holiness, the fruit of the righteousness of Christ.

NEW WAVE OF PERSECUTION AGAINST CHRISTIANS

NEW WAVE OF PERSECUTION AGAINST CHRISTIANS

Matt. 24:9-10 ¶ “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.

Make no mistake about it, there is a new wave of persecution of Christians in our world today. In Syria, there are reports of burning historic churches and beheading average Christians. In Pakistan, there was the bombing of an ancient church this weekend with a death toll in the seventies. In Egypt, over eighty churches have been burned in the last several months. In Iran, pastors have been sought out , arrested and imprisoned for many years. In Nigeria, many reports of kidnapping of Christian girls to be raised in the homes of Muslim leaders and being forced to renounce their faith. In Kenya, Christians were targeted in the mall uprising, that death toll is still being tallied up. If we think these things are unrelated we are just fooling ourselves. Christianity is under attack because the end is drawing near. Here is an excerpt from a recent news article by Raymond Ibrahim.

“Teachers who teach western education? We will kill them! We will kill them in front of their students, and tell the students to henceforth study the Quran.” — Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, which has slaughtered Christian teachers and students, but has not been designated a terrorist group.

On July 4th, the day after the Egyptian military liberated its nation from Muslim Brotherhood rule, Christian Copts were immediately scapegoated and targeted. All Islamist leaders—from Brotherhood supreme leader Muhammad Badi, to Egyptian-born al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri, to top Sunni cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi—made a point to single out Egypt’s Copts as especially instrumental in the ousting of former Islamist president Morsi, a claim that ushered in a month of slaughter against the nation’s Christian minority.”

Among other events in July, unprecedented numbers of Christian churches were attacked, plundered, desecrated, and torched. According to one Egyptian human rights lawyer, “82 churches, many of which were from the 5th century, were attacked by pro-Morsi supporters in just two days.” Al-Qaeda’s flag was raised above some churches; anti-Christian graffiti littered the sides of other churches and Coptic homes. Due to extreme anti-Christian sentiment, many churches ceased holding worship services until recently. Dozens of Coptic homes and businesses were also attacked, looted and torched.”

The point of this blog is to awaken Christians to the world we live in. We cannot pretend like everything is fine, its not. Of course I understand that The Lord has everything covered, but who will He use to fulfill His purposes in these days? Can He use you? Are you available to pray? Are you available to share His love with the lost? As our world gets darker, the truth of the gospel shines even brighter. What a contrast between the hostility in the world to the love displayed to the world through Christ. Let His love deepen in you, let His light shine through you.

THE WORD, THE SPIRIT, AND PRAYER

THE WORD, THE SPIRIT, AND PRAYER

Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.Ephesians 5:18–19

I love what Paul taught us about staying filled with the Spirit by singing scripture. Prayer can become quite pleasurable when we follow the apostle’s instructions, “Be continually filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in Psalms…”. Actually, praying or singing Psalms can never be exhausted. In the Psalms we find worship, petition, intercession, and prayers of commitment and intercession. Believers have been praying and singing the Psalms for thousands of years. Here are some thoughts from Martin Luther who used the Psalms in his daily times with the LORD.

“Consider what the most respected church fathers, especially Athanasius and Augustine, taught about using psalms. They said we should adapt and adjust our minds so that we are in tune with the psalms. We must sing the psalms with the help of the Holy Spirit. They are like a school for the attitudes of the heart.

For example, when you read in Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,” you must actually reject the advice that wicked people give you. When you read, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD,” you shouldn’t take it easy and pat yourself on the back as if you are a person who already loves the Lord’s teachings. For as long as you live, you will need to think of yourself as a person who desperately needs to love God’s teachings even more.

Don’t think that you are being asked to do the impossible. All you need to do is try, and I know you will be glad you did. First, practice on one psalm or even one verse of a psalm. You will be successful as soon as you have learned how to make just one verse come alive and live in your heart—even if it takes a day or a whole week. However, after you begin, everything else will follow naturally, and you will find a rich treasure of insight and love. Just be careful you e don’t let weariness and discouragement prevent you from getting started.”

I love Luther’s paraphrase of the teaching of Augustine and Athanasius, “we should adapt and adjust our minds so that we are in tune with the psalms”. This is exactly what Paul taught, to adjust our minds by praying the Psalms. Paul said this would result in being filled with the Spirit.
So let’s think for a moment about the teaching of Paul and the church fathers. Actually what they taught us was what happens when we combine the word of God to our prayers in song. This powerful threefold cord results in incredible, Holy Spirit outpouring. If you feel a little dry, take out the Psalms and begin to sing them (any melody will do). If you don’t know where to start, some of my favorites are Psalms 63; 16; 110; and 45. Enjoy!!!

WHAT A CRAZY WORLD

WHAT A CRAZY WORLD

Matt. 24:8-9 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. ¶ “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.

Jesus told us these kinds of things would happen, still, when they do, it still catches us all by surprise. In today’s verse alone, The Lord spoke about being delivered up to tribulation, this is a description of circumstances perpetrated by humans that put us under extreme pressure. Today, we would call this terrorism. He went on to speak about persecution and even martyrdom. Later in the same passage He spoke about the destruction of the jewish temple, the very center piece of the jewish world. We live in a world where these words are being fulfilled on a daily basis.
Just this week we have seen terrorism in the nations begin to aim its fury at the international Christian community. I have heard of three of these kinds of events in the last week. First, in Syria, some of the rebel forces are manned by Muslim extremists. They have been reported as burning ancient churches in the villages in rural Syria as well as beheading some of the Christians. These Christian communities have been in place since the days of the Apostle Paul, the fury of the antichrist spirit is fueling this jihadist hatred. The second occurrence happened in Pakistan just this weekend. A church was bombed by Muslim extremists killing approximately 70 worshippers. Their hatred for Christ is reminiscent of the persecutions in the first century. Finally, there was the attack by Muslim extremists in Kenya. In this case they took over a mall and begin to question people about the Muslim faith. If they proved to be Muslim they were released, if not, they were shot. This event is still unfolding at this writing, at least 62 have been killed. The population of Kenya is about 80% Christian. You do the math, this was a blatant attack on Christians and ultimately upon Christ Himself. It is shocking to see this vicious hatred being aimed directly at Christianity, I guess we should not be surprised.
I also read an article in the New York Times this weekend. It seems that there has been an upsurge of interest among the Israelis to visit the site of the ancient Temple Mount. The only problem with this is that a mosque is there, the Dome of the Rock. This has caused an out break of violence at the Temple Mount, the muslims are offended at the jews coming to this mosque, the jews are offended that a mosque is on this sacred ground.
With all of that being said, how does this effect me? The most important thing is this, do not be lulled to sleep. We are living in a rapidly shrinking world and these problems that seem so far off and irrelevant can come suddenly pounding on our doors. Now is the time to shake ourselves from our sleep, stir our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is coming, I want to live like I believe it.