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NEVER THIRST

September 29, 2016

John 4:13,14   Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.

I love this verse of scripture, in it we find one of the greatest of all Bible promises. Do you see it? Jesus said that if we drink His living water we will never thirst again. What exactly was He saying? Now of course you will become naturally thirsty as long as we are in this human body. Jesus was saying that the thirst of our soul would be finally satisfied. 

Hudson Taylor, 19th Century missionary to China spoke often of this verse. He actually used this verse in prayer after the death of his young wife Maria. He thought he could never continue his ministry without her companionship and found total satisfaction in God while praying this verse. Here are some of Taylor’s words from the book “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret”. 
“How lonesome,” Taylor recalled “were the weary hours when confined to my room! How I missed my dear wife and the voices of the children far away in England! Then it was I understood why the Lord had made that passage so real to me, ‘Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst’. Twenty times a day, perhaps, as I felt the heart-thirst coming back, I cried to him, ‘Lord, you promised! You promised me that I should never thirst.’

“And whether I called by day or night, how quickly he came and satisfied my sorrowing heart! So much so that I often wondered whether it were possible that my loved one who had been taken could be enjoying more of his presence than I was in my lonely chamber. He did literally fulfill the prayer:

“Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me “A living, bright reality; 

More present to faith’s vision keen 

Than any outward object seen;

More dear, more intimately nigh 

Than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.”
Christ Himself is what our heart thirsts for. Whether it is in loneliness or in many of the other challenges we face in our daily lives, Christ Himself will come to all of those who look to Him and satisfy their longing soul. Are you hurting today? There are many things in this life that can leave us broken and empty, only this living water can heal us and quench the longing of our souls. 

MY JOY

September 28, 2016

MY JOY

Psa. 56:13 For you have delivered my soul from death,

  yes, my feet from falling,

  that I may walk before God

  in the light of life. 
Recently I have been reflecting on the sudden, unexpected change that happened to me at my conversion. It was really the very first time I became aware of the miracle power of God and the supernatural nature of true Christianity. It goes to the very heart of who we are, our will. These are the things we enjoy to do and the things we do often because, frankly, we enjoy them. It is pleasure, or the promise of pleasure, that is the fountain from which all of our actions spring. For example, we go to work to make money so we can enjoy the things money provides; things like a better house or car, nice clothes, or even our hobbies like golf or fishing. We may do all sorts of things we don’t really like (like pushing chicken manure) because of the pay check and the things we can purchase. This brings me back to that first miracle at my conversion. I lost the desire to smoke pot. Sounds simple now but back then it was huge. Every day was crowded with acquiring weed, finding a time to smoke it, or getting the money to buy it. That all changed with Christ. I simply lost the desire to get high on drugs because of this new “high” or pleasure that I found in Christ. That changed everything. Now my pleasure began to come from the Bible, going to church or small group meetings, or by sharing my faith. I want to finish today with a short quote from Augustine and how he was delivered from the bondage of sexual pleasure by finding delight in God. 
“During all those years [of rebellion], where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke? . . . How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! . . . You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. [There’s the key phrase and the key reality for understanding the heart of Augustinianism.] You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure , though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves. . . .O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.”

THE BEAUTY OF FAITH

September 27, 2016

Gal. 3:5,6 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 

Faith is an amazing thing. It is different from belief or hope, it is more precise. Faith does not originate with man and is not a product of the human heart or will power. Faith is supernatural; it is a gift from God. By faith the things of the unseen world become sure to us. Our spiritual eyes are opened by faith to see the glory of God in all things. By faith our ears are opened to hear and comprehend the sweet voice of our Savior. It is by faith that our heart is warmed, our love awakened, and we are drawn into this new kind of life that effects every part of us. Martin Luther’s life was awakened by faith, his teachings on the subject of faith changed our world. Here is a glimpse of what he taught from today’s verse.
“With these words, “He believed God,” Paul shows us that faith in God is the highest worship, the greatest allegiance, the ultimate obedience, and the most pleasing sacrifice. Whoever has a way with words should expand on this topic. That person will discover that faith is all-powerful. Its power is immeasurable and infinite. Faith gives God the greatest honor anyone can give him. Giving God honor is believing him, considering him truthful, wise, righteous, merciful, and all-powerful. In short, it’s recognizing that he is the Creator and Giver of every good thing. Reason doesn’t do this; only faith does. Faith makes God real to us and real in us. Without faith, God’s honor, glory, wisdom, righteousness, truth, and mercy cannot be in us. Where there is no faith, God has no majesty and divinity. God doesn’t require anything more from us than to acknowledge his divinity and give him the glory and honor he deserves.”
If you observe the world today there is no sense of awe or majesty in reference to the Lord. Even in the church, our approach to God has become casual; in other words there is rarely seen a sense of the fear of God. This majesty and respect for God’s greatness comes from seeing the Lord as He is. No one who stands in His presence can take Him for granted or treat Him as common. This is where faith comes in, by faith we touch the reality of God; when that happens you are introduced to another world. 

“The unpropitious day where you slay a lion”

September 26, 2016

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done mighty deeds, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.” 2 Samuel 23:20
Have you’ve ever had a unpropitious day? One that would not be favorable or you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think all of us could remember those not so great days. But sometimes in the midst of the pit, something courageous happens. I must admit I have passed up this verse in the Bible many a time. Benaiah was one of David’s mighty men who not only killed a lion but killed it in a pit on a snowy day. Whatever happened in that pit, a mighty man emerged. During our Bible School days, Frank came home from the chicken ranch job to say he fell into the chicken manure pit because the pump had shorted out the night before. When we look back at the “chicken ranch days” (which we do a lot!) God was building something courageous within! What do you do when you encounter a pit? What do you do in the unpropitious day? 

Recently I finished a quick excerpt from the book “Chase the Lion” by Mark Batterson. In it he said, “Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn’t chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path.” 

In Proverbs 26:13 it says, “The slothful man saith, “There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets”. Christians can get themselves so worked up that we actually paint or imagine there is a lion out there. God puts us in very difficult positions because he is out to get all the glory. I pray you can chase your lion and jump right where all the action is and let God change the world through you. It’s time to jump in the pit and tackle your fears! 

Penny Pulpit has a great quote, “Man is not made by sunny hours. Strong men are made by shadows not by sunshine, by storm and not by calm. It may be the lion of drink, or the lion of lust, or the lion of ungoverned temper. The longer that lion lies lurking within unslain the stronger and the more ferocious he will become. He who in the unpropitious day, the unfavorable hour, the inconvenient moment slays the lion, first within himself, which threatens to destroy his own life, and then in the midst of the people which menaces the peace, comfort, happiness of men, shall receive even in this world a thousand fold and in the world to come life everlasting.” 

FRAPPED

September 25, 2016

Heb. 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Paul was talking about help in the midst of a life threatening storm in this verse. How do I know? He used the most unusual word word for help in this verse. It is an ancient nautical term called boethia in greek. This is the definition: 
boetheia – aid; specially, a rope or chain for frapping a vessel: 
frap – nautical term; to bind or wrap tightly with ropes or chains. 
Paul was talking about a tactic sailors in his day used when a ship was being beaten by a storm and threatened to be broken apart. They would take ropes or chains and literally wrap the boat with these bands to strengthen the vessel. This would hold the wooden ship together against the pounding of the waves. Now do you see what Paul was trying to tell us? He was saying that we could be ‘frapped’, held together or helped by the strongest cords of all. We are held by the bonds of God’s love. Nothing can destroy us because we are helped by God. 

So this verse tells us that we can draw near to the throne of grace with confidence in the midst of our storm and find help no matter what we may be facing. 

This word, boetheia, is used one other time in the New Testament. It is found in Acts when Paul was traveling to Rome as a prisoner. The ship was caught up in a storm and the sailors used frapping to help save the vessel. 

Acts 27:17 “Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.”

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were being tempted to back down on theirs beliefs because of religious persecution. We live in similar times today. Paul was saying that no matter how hard the headwinds of resistance against you are blowing we have help that comes from the Lord. If the circumstances of your life are contrary to the gospel and the pressure from others to temper your beliefs is strong, it may be time for you to come boldly before the throne of grace. You will find well timed help that will be more than enough to get you through. 

 

A WHOLE NEW LIFE

September 24, 2016

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.

Eph. 2:4–5
The Lord looks at things totally differently from the way we do. This generation seems to be fixated on improving people’s self esteem even to the point of denying the obvious; we are all deeply flawed and in need of regeneration and renewal. Regeneration is the beginning of our new life, like Jesus said, “Unless a man is born again he will never see the kingdom of God”. But we dare not stop at regeneration, daily renewal is imperative. In Revelations Jesus said, “Behold, I am making all things new”. So this act of continual renewal or transformation began at the new birth but it continues daily as we experience Christ making all things new in us. I love this about the Lord, there is no plateaus or getting to a place that we can say we have arrived. His adventure of transformation is never ending. Andrew Murray connected this renewal to Pentecost. Check out his thoughts on today’s verse. 
“Man had fallen from a life in God into a life of self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking and in pursuing the perishing enjoyments of the world. But on the day of Pentecost a new dispensation of God came forth. God’s part in it was the working of the Holy Spirit and His gifts and graces upon the whole church. Man’s part in it was the adoration of God in spirit and in truth.

All this was to make way for the immediate and continual working of God in man. Man, baptized with the Holy Spirit, should renounce self and give up his entire soul, with all the faculties of his mind, to the disposal of God.”
So rather than improving our image of ourselves we actually have to die to ourselves. It is not improving us that we want, it is Christ revealing Himself to us, in us, and through us that we are after. How can I cooperate with this ultimate plan of God? It is by drawing near to God in worship and in His word, drinking in His goodness and love for me. The more He becomes real in me, the more He shines through me. This is awesome. This is where I am satisfied and God is glorified, I must decrease and He must increase. 

TWO KINDS OF DRINK

September 23, 2016

Eph. 5:18,19 – And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 

This verse describes the two types of lifestyles that we find in our world today. One is characterized by worldly behavior enhanced by the use of alcoholic beverages. The other life is a Spirit filled and empowered lifestyle characterized by another kind of drinking. Yep, there is another drink very different from the one the world offers us. What is this heavenly beverage? It is the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Paul describes a life constantly filled with this new wine. How is that possible? Just check today’s verse, we can be continually filled by singing palms, hymns, and spiritual songs; these are the drinking songs of the Spirit. Martin Luther loved to sing the Psalms, check out his thoughts on today’s verse. 

“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. 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 don’t let weariness and discouragement prevent you from getting started.”
Just go ahead and get started; in other words, go ahead and have a drink. David himself had discovered this kind of drinking, that’s what the Psalms are all about. David describes this life in 

Psa. 36:8 “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures”. Start singing the Psalms, then move over into one of the songs or hymns from church, as you get good and intoxicated on the Spirit you can move into the spiritual songs of the Spirit or the new song like David sang. This can become your chosen drink and you will never thirst for that worldly beverage again. 

COME TO THE THRONE OF GRACE

September 22, 2016

Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

What a promise from the Lord! We have free access into our Father’s presence all of the time. Our access is not dependent on our own righteousness or goodness, I am thankful for that. Our access is based on the righteousness and goodness of Christ. We can come into His very presence and find help in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. This promise is shocking. There are plenty of important people that we could never get access to (unless you are willing to pay a huge price). To have access to our Creator is really unthinkable. I can come before Him with boldness because the blood of God’s Son was poured out for me, the blood of Jesus washes away all of my sin. Here is how Charles Spurgeon described this privilege that belongs to all of God’s children.  
 “It is the believer’s privilege to have access at all times to his heavenly Father. Whatever our desires, our difficulties, our wants, we are at liberty to spread all before him. It matters not how much we may have sinned, we may ask and expect pardon. It signifies nothing how poor we are, we may plead his promise that he will provide all things needful. We have permission to approach his throne at all times-in midnight’s darkest hour, or in noontide’s most burning heat. Exercise thy right, O believer, and live up to thy privilege. Thou art free to all that is treasured up in Christ-wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. It matters not what thy need is, for there is fulness of supply in Christ, and it is there for thee. O what a freedom is thine! freedom from condemnation, freedom to the promises, freedom to the throne of grace, and at last freedom to enter heaven!”
So what condition do you find yourself in this morning? Are you worried or confused? Are you being tempted to return to the sins of the past? There is real help for you whatever you may be facing. There is not only help, there is well timed help. The Lord brings our answer and our provision at the appointed time. Look to Him, draw near with confidence to the arms of your Father. He cares for you deeply, He has provided the way of escape. 

PRECIOUS PROMISES

September 21, 2016

The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.Galatians 5:1

The promises of God are precious to us. This is not just a religious cliche, His promises are valuable and can be counted on consistently in our lives. One of the mentors the Lord brought into my life was Dick Mills. He taught me to love old books, to value God’s word, and the incredible treasure God’s promises are to us. The Lord used Brother Mills to give me a “word from the Lord” from Psalm 46 when I was responding in pressure to decisions that I needed to make. This is the verse that was life changing to me,  

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Ps.46:10

That was it, I was about to make a huge mistake and this one promise birthed my ministry in New Orleans. I had to be still and wait on the Lord, during that time of waiting, my circumstances changed and an opportunity presented itself to me to return to my home in NOLA. Here are some thought from Spurgeon on the promises of God. 
“This liberty makes us free to heaven’s charter-the Bible. Here is a choice passage, believer, When thou passest through the rivers, I will be with thee. You are free to that. Here is another: The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee; you are free to that. You are a welcome guest at the table of the promises. Scripture is a never-failing treasury filled with boundless stores of grace. It is the bank of heaven; you may draw from it as much as you please, without let or hindrance. Come in faith and you are welcome to all covenant blessings. There is not a promise in the Word which shall be withheld. In the depths of tribulations let this freedom comfort you; amidst waves of distress let it cheer you; when sorrows surround thee let it be thy solace. This is thy Father’s love-token; thou art free to it at all times.”
Are you facing a decision making time in your life today? Don’t respond to life’s pressures, responding like that never seems to pan out very well. Look to God’s word and He will give you a promise that covers whatever circumstance you are facing. Whether it is health related, finances, family, or business; God’s promises have you covered. 

THE GOODNESS OF GOD

September 20, 2016

2Chr. 5:13 indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 

The Lord is good, everything about Him is perfect. His being radiates this goodness, this is what we call His presence. As Solomon and the priests worshipped the Lord at the dedication of the temple it was His goodness that was so striking. As they sang the Davidic Psalm the glory of His presence filled the temple. It was so thick that they couldn’t stand up. In Kings it says they weren’t even able to enter the building. Goodness was overwhelming the atmosphere. Have you ever felt the goodness of God? There is nothing in this world that comes anywhere close to this uncommon love. Here is how Andrew Murray describes this goodness. 

“The goodness of God was the cause and the beginning of His Creation. God can communicate nothing but goodness. He made man to receive His goodness. As the sun can only give light, so the holy triune God can give nothing but the riches and goodness of His divine perfection to all those who are capable of receiving them. This is the amiable nature of God: He is everything that is good. He is love itself—pure immeasurable love, doing nothing but from love, giving nothing but gifts of love to everything that He has made, requiring nothing of all His creatures but the spirit and fruit of that Love who brought them into being. What great motivation for man to return love for love! View every part of our redemption, from Adam’s first sin to the resurrection of the dead, and you will find nothing but successive mysteries of that first Love that created angels and men.”
What a great picture of God’s goodness; the sun can only give light, the Lord can only radiate goodness. After all; it is His goodness, or kindness, that leads us to repentance. When the lost are confronted with that distinct, unmistakeable atmosphere of the holy presence of God only two things can happen. First, repentance. Repentance that leads to drinking in His goodness and following in this new way of life. The other option, to slink back into the darkness and act as if He isn’t really real.