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PROTESTANT AND PENTECOSTAL #3

March 3, 2015

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

I am a Pentecostal, Protestant Christian. When Jesus left His disciples to return to heaven, He told them to wait for the “Promise of the Father” [Acts 1:4]. This is a promise the Father made to Jesus in eternity. The Father and the Son entered an eternal covenant. If Christ would become a man and sacrifice his life for fallen man all those who believed upon Him would receive the Promise, the awesome baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Spirit is the purchasd possession obtained by Christ on the cross.

Secondly I want to honor the heavenly ministry of Jesus. John prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mark 1:8,9). When Jesus ascended into heaven His heavenly ministry as our heavenly High Priest began. This heavenly ministry is the ministry of immersion into the person of the Holy Spirit. We see the first occurrence of this on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Today His heavenly ministry continues. The modern church, many times, does not recognize or honor Jesus and His heavenly ministry. Many times we want to rewrite the emphasis of the church and the Christian life. To honor the heavenly ministry of Jesus we must be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, we need supernatural power. Our world is becoming more dangerous everyday. It is becoming harder and harder for Christians to live a godly life in this dark, wicked world. We need the power of God, the tangible power that comes upon us when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. To live holy in this perverse world we need His power.

We also need this power for effective ministry. Jesus told us this in Acts 1:8. He said we would receive power (dunamis-supernatural power) when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. We are dealing with addictions, illnesses, and all kinds of bondages when ministering to this generation. Christian empowerment slogans are not good enough, we must have power.

Finally, I am a Pentecostal because of the blessing given to me by the supernatural language of prayer. Speaking in tongues is the doorway to the world of the supernatural.

Paul said we are edified, built up spiritually (1 Corinthians 14:2,4) when we pray in tongues. He said the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses when we pray in the Spirit (Romans 8:26). He taught about our intercessory anointing that sometimes comes when we pray in tongues (Romans 8:27). He also taught about the prophetic nature of praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15).

The prayer language is not an after thought, or an unimportant extra. The prayer language is foundational to the supernatural Christian life.

We live in perilous times (II Timothy 3:1). We need to return to the faith of our fathers. We have drifted toward a seeker sensitive, Christian light faith for far to long. We must return to our Protestant and our Pentecostal roots. The future of our families our cities and our nation are on the line. Join with me on my spiritual safari, we are sojourning to the city, the city that has a foundation whose builder and maker is God.

PROTESTANT AND PENTECOSTAL #2

March 2, 2015

1Pet. 2:9 ¶ But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

 

Luther also taught us a second great lesson, the priesthood of the Christian believer. In I Peter 2:9 we are called a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” This teaching birthed a great revolution in the souls of those experiencing this new faith. No longer did they need an earthly mediator; they had a mediator in heaven, the man Christ Jesus. We all have direct access into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. We are all priests unto God.

Luther also taught us the importance of the written Word of God. He proceeded to translate the Bible into German for the people in his churches. As these new believers began to search the scriptures in their own language everything changed. Today we have access to many great translations, commentaries and word study books. Dig into the word of God; it is food for our soul.

 

 

Our Protestant fathers also taught us the importance of the local church. The ministries of the ministers flow out of the local church and become the centerpiece of our Christian lives.

In the revival of 1734-1735 in Northampton, Mass, the local church became the hub of everything. This is where our instruction, our relationships, and even our business found its protection. The local church is critical to our way of life in our western culture.

Ephesians 2:17-22 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

 

These truths in today’s devotion can change your life. We learn the importance of the priesthood of the believer. We all have access to God and can hear from Him. Also we see that the Lord speaks to us primarily from His written word. Immerse yourself in scripture and you will begin to grow profoundly. Finally in today’s segment, we are reminded of the blessing of the local church. This is our place of safety and our place to serve together with other believers.

 

PROTESTANT AND PENTECOSTAL #1

March 1, 2015

Rom. 1:16 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Our world is in a constant state of change, and regretfully many of these secular changes gradually but steadily affect the church. Regretfully we are losing our moorings, our connection to the heritage of our Christian faith.

Over the past twenty years I have been on a spiritual safari, searching for the reality of God in my life and in His church. This journey inevitably leads me to the past, to the men and women who have gone before us. I find myself drinking from the ancient wells of our fathers. The wells of Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry and many others keep attracting me and calling me to drink. The more I drink; I am convinced of two things. First, I am a Protestant Christian. The message that birthed Western civilization penned by the Apostle Paul “The just shall live by faith,” and echoed by Martin Luther 15 centuries later is still the foundation of Western Civilization today, the undergirding of His church and the anchor of my soul.

Martin Luther was lost in the snare of human effort and a system of religious works until one day he read those words from Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith.” Those words brought freedom to his soul and began the revolution that drug Europe from the shadows of the dark ages. The Protestant Reformation had begun.

As a monk, Luther later wrote, he was tormented by the thoughts of damnation for sins, saying that he “hated this God who punched sinners, if not with silent blasphemies at least with huge murmurings. I was indignant against God. As if it were not enough that miserable sinners, eternally ruined by original sin, should be crushed…through the Law of the Ten Commandments…and so I raged with a savaged and confounded conscience.” He therefore turned to the Bible. The Catholic Church had always taught that grace was active, in the sense that it came into force at the Day of Judgment when the righteous would be separated from the damned. As he read Romans 1, Luther became convinced that the grace of which Paul wrote was passive, hence available to everyone. This led to his conclusion that salvation came not through penance and repentance, nor through the intercession of saints and martyrs or the prayers of the church, but by faith alone. It was an entirely new idea. As Luther re-read Romans 1:16-17, he wrote, I felt myself straightaway born afresh and to have entered through the open gates into paradise.” This led to the further belief that the Bible was the sole authority. In 1517, he nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg University.

Just like Luther, we are accepted by God not on the basis of our works but by faith in Christ alone. This is the foundation stone of our Christian faith.

Part 1 of 3 days – PROTESTANT AND PENTECOSTAL

DEEPER

February 28, 2015

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil.

It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.

MATTHEW 13:5”

Do you have a hunger for a deeper walk with God? Shallow Christianity may look good, but like Jesus said, there is no depth of soil. The downside is a restless heart that never finds contentment in God. The shallow Christian has their spiritual life as just a segment of their life, their identity and fulfillment comes from somewhere else. The Lord beckons us out into the deeper waters of spiritual life. Like Peter cleaning his nets on the shore when the clear voice rang out, “Launch out into the deep…”, the voice still cries out to whosoever will. We must resist the temptation to flow with the rest of this society as it rushes along never taking time to stop and acknowledge and enjoy the goodness of our God that is all around us calling for us to launch out into the deeper waters of spiritual life. Here is how Andrew Murray described it.

“The seed sown upon the rocky place quickly withered because there was no deepness of soil. We have here a striking picture of religion that seems to start well but fails to last. The Christian needs a deeper life. Let your whole life be an entering into that love of which Paul prays in Ephesians 3:17–19, “That you, being rooted and established in love,”

may have power … to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know the love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

How can we attain this? Paul answers, “I kneel before the Father. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:14–17). The apostle here emphasizes three essential components of spiritual growth: humble prayer, reliance upon the powerful working of the Spirit, and—most importantly—fellowship through faith with the indwelling CHRIST.

I often think of the word from the Lord Dick Mills gave me in 1976, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted in the earth’. Almost forty years later I am still trying to just ‘be still’. It is in that stillness that our hearts are thrilled with the greatness and goodness of who He is. Maybe today we can be still for a moment and let Him fill us again with His goodness.

UNDER THE SHADOW

February 27, 2015

Psa. 91:1 ¶ He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

It is one thing to be a guest somewhere, an entirely another thing to move in and live there. That is what the psalmist is describing in Ps. 91. The words of the old King James Bible ring loud and clear, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”. Wow! What an incredible promise! What an incredible option! I don’t have to just visit the Shadow of God, that place can become my home. That is the whole point of our Christian faith, we have access into the holiest of all. I love how SPURGEON describes this life in his Treasury of David. Here are some of his thoughts.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High. The blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in close fellowship with God. Every child of God looks towards the inner sanctuary and the mercyseat, yet all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence. Those who through rich grace obtain unusual and continuous communion with God, so as to abide in Christ and Christ in them, become possessors of rare and special benefits, which are missed by those who follow afar off, and grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Into the secret place those only come who know the love of God in Christ Jesus, and those only dwell there to whom to live is Christ. To them the veil is rent, the mercyseat is revealed, the covering cherubs are manifest, and the awful glory of the Most High is apparent: these, like Simeon, have the Holy Ghost upon them…”

There are blessings available to those who choose this life. These blessings are not ones you can see with your eyes or touch with your hands yet they too are tangible. Living in the Shadow of God brings us to a place of heavenly blessings; a powerful sense of God’s sovereignty is ours, an indescribable joy that is not of this world, supernatural power for ministry, and an unthinkable heavenly language of divine communication. Yeah, there is absolutely another way to live, it is life in the glory of Shaddai’s shadow.

PLENTY GRACE

February 26, 2015

I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.

Ezekiel 34:26

There is a huge difference between self help messages and gospel messages. Self help teaching motivates the human to trust in his or her ability to tap into their resources to excel in life. Of course they say that these are God given talents and resources. This really takes the Lord out of the equation. We know that everything that is, comes from God but that is not the point. He wants to be involved in our lives daily and intimately. He is not a far off God that got everything started and then sits back to watch us perform. No, He wants our eyes and dependency to be directed toward Him. I needed Him to start my Christian walk, I need Him to sustain and equip me everyday, and I especially need Him to finish my race with strength and joy. Here are some thoughts about the grace of God and His involvement in our lives from Charles Spurgeon. 

“Here is sovereign mercy-I will give them the shower in its season. Is it not sovereign, divine mercy?-for who can say, I will give them showers, except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain. Who sendeth down the rain upon the earth? Who scattereth the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord? So grace is the gift of God, and is not to be created by man. It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds, but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful is the divine blessing. In vain you labour, until God the plenteous shower bestows, and sends salvation down. Then, it is plenteous grace. I will send them showers. It does not say, I will send them drops, but showers. So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, he usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace!”

Yep, He is the Author and Finisher of my faith. I need Him ever moment of every day. He is our breath, our food, and our drink. It is in feeding on Him that we are strengthened and equipped by His grace for whatever comes down the road toward us. 

PRAYER’S BLESSING

February 25, 2015

Matt. 7:7 ¶ “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 

Prayer reminds us of how things really are; God is the giver, we are the receivers. That is why prayer glorifies God, it looks to Him as the supplier of every good gift. Prayer destroys pride acknowledging total dependency upon the Lord. I can still remember some of those times early in my Christian walk where the Lord met me in prayer. One of those times was when my wife Parris was expecting our first son. The doctors were quite concerned about Parris’s ability to deliver our baby. I went through several months struggling with God in prayer. Obviously, He could have healed her any time during the pregnancy but He chose to do it at the last minute. Parris and the baby were healthy and I had learned to lean on the Lord in prayer. Here are some great thoughts from Spurgeon on prayer. 

“Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing’s shadow. When the sunlight of God’s mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, he himself shines behind them, and he casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.

Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw;

Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;

Gives exercise to faith and love;

Brings every blessing from above.”

I love that illustration, prayer is the shadow that precedes God’s blessing. That is extremely encouraging to me. Why you ask? Because we have been experiencing a new desire to seek the Lord in prayer for an outpouring of His Spirit on New Orleans. If prayer is the shadow of God’s blessing, revival is on the horizon. Maybe you have some challenges that you have been bringing to the Lord in prayer. Rest under His shadow, the answer is part of the blessing of prayer. 

DRUNK WITH FULLNESS

February 24, 2015

Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

It is more and more rare to see passionate lovers of God. It is almost as if a film has coated the hearts of people in this ‘have it now’ culture we are living in. Short services, info-sermons with no heart, perfect music with no fire; no wonder our Christians are listless. The Lord is after our hearts. It is not technicians He seeks, it is lovers. Today’s verse says it best, ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ He is still seeking worshipers. It is in worship that our hearts are finally satisfied. Augustine spoke about a spiritual drunkenness found in the presence of the Lord. 1600 hundred years have passed since Augustine, man’s hunger and need is still the same. Here is how Augustine says it.

Piper/Augustine

“The soul of men shall hope under the shadow of Thy wings; they shall be made drunk with the fullness of Thy house; and of the torrents of Thy pleasures Thou wilt give them to drink; for in Thee is the Fountain of Life, and in Thy Light shall we see the light? Give me a man in love: he knows what I mean. Give me one who yearns; give me one who is hungry; give me one far away in this desert, who is thirsty and sighs for the spring of the Eternal country. Give me that sort of man: he knows what I mean. But if I speak to a cold man, he just does not know what I am talking about. . . .”

John Piper describes the relevancy of Augustine’s words in today’s world.

“These words from Augustine should make our hearts burn with renewed longing for God. And they should help us see why it is so difficult to display the glory of the Gospel to so many people. The reason is that so many do not long for anything very much. They are just coasting. They are not passionate about any-thing. They are “cold” not just toward the glory of Christ in the Gospel, but toward everything. Even their sins are picked at rather than swallowed with passion”

So, what does it for you? What do you feel strongly about or are you wandering around with the apathetic throngs? What is the solution? The only solution is pursuing pleasure with all your heart found by drinking of the fullness of the Father’s house.

THE SHEPHERD

February 23, 2015

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“I lay down my life for the sheep, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”John 10:15

The month before Hurricane Katrina hit our city, Frank and I traveled to Bulgaria to preach. Little did I realize what would happen 30 days later. But while in Bulgaria I had a very touching experience that would carry me through Katrina and beyond. We had just eaten lunch up in the mountains and were making our way back down into town traveling through quaint little villages. It was if I was being transported into another world-everything seem to stand out to me in a vivid way. The sunflowers were in full bloom, the sun was bright and beautiful and to my amazement I saw this shepherd. His face with filled with ruggedness and yet joyfulness and he seemed to look right at me. I felt this intense warmth come communicating that “everything would be alright”. His sheep were all around him. He wore shepherd garb from head to toe- and the years upon his face did him well. All I can say is I will never forget that Shepherd I knew that the Lord was my shepherd and He will be our guide all through our life unto the end. No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Everyday when we wake up he will satisfy us to the uttermost. When we follow him we don’t have to worry of others doing us harm. Yes-indeed.
Spurgeon said, “The Good Shepherd does not stint his sheep, but he gives them so much, that they lie down amid the exceeding plenty of the green pastures. They cannot eat it all, and they lie down in the midst of a superabundance, which infinite mercy has provided. See, then, how God’s boundless love piles mountain upon mountain, that we, up from the depths of our distress, may climb to the heights of his blessedness, and enjoy the fullness of the glory which God has treasured up for us in the person of Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Slowly the good Shepherd wins the confidence of the soul. He patiently waits for us as if he rescued us from an animal shelter! Grace works upon our hearts and cements us to Christ all the days of our lives. Do we listen for His voice? Do we accept the good things along with the bad? All I have to do is close my eyes and see that Shepherd standing there with his sheep, day after day. He watches over me and guides through the great maze of life. The shepherd Christ has gone before us and will watch over you. All we have to do is follow him all the days of our life.

FREE FROM MY ENSLAVED WILL

February 22, 2015

Rom. 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

We live in a real dangerous time. Humans are medicating themselves from the pain involved in day to day life with a variety of pills and drink. The power to liberate man is found in the ancient well that Jesus spoke of, the well of living water. This is a well of joy that is available to all who come by grace and drink of God’s incredible gift of life. The problem boils down to this. Rather than making this well available in our churches we act as if the well is not needed. Instead, we are told that God loves us like we are and accepts us like we are because of grace. That is only partially true. He loves us so much He refuses to leave us like were are. There is freedom from all kinds of sin that comes from drinking from God’s cup of grace. There is freedom from addictions to alcohol, drugs, sexual sin, greed, etc. John Piper uses the teachings of Augustine to make this very clear. Check this out.

“So saving grace, converting grace, in Augustine’s view, is God’s giving us a sovereign joy in God that triumphs over all other joys and therefore sways the will. The will is free to move toward whatever it delights in most fully, but it is not within the power of our will to determine what that sovereign joy will be. Therefore Augustine concludes,

‘A man’s free-will, indeed, avails for nothing except to sin, if he knows not the way of truth; and even after his duty and his proper aim shall begin to become known to him, unless he also take delight in and feel a love for it, he neither does his duty, nor sets about it, nor lives rightly. Now, in order that such a course may engage our “affections, God’s “love is shed abroad in our hearts” not through the free-will which arises from ourselves, but “through the Holy Ghost, which is given to us” (Romans 5:5).’”

So it is the very grace of God that actually changes what we love. Rather than lusting for drugs, or someone we are not married to, we are set free. Our enslaved will is set free from the chains that held us captive. What were those chains? The promise of pleasure found in sinful activities. The freedom comes when we taste the pleasure found in knowing Christ intimately.


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